Reader Story: The Life of a Female Motor Officer

What it takes to be among the elite few

By Tina Leman, Sanford, Florida

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In law enforcement, motor officers are distinguished as the top 2 percent in the field. Female motor officers, like me, are the top 0.2 percent (roughly) of law enforcement—now that is an accomplishment! Of course, getting there wasn’t a walk in the park. I endured the required two weeks of physical and emotional drain (80 hours in the Florida heat) to become a certified motor officer. A fellow officer and retired Marine said of the Basic Motorcycle Officer Training class, “That was worse than SWAT school!”

Motor officer Tina Leman weaves through traffic cones on a Harley-Davidson police bike at a police rodeo. The motorcycle she rides on the job is a 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14, based on the supersport ZX-14.

Whichever unit of law enforcement an officer chooses—motors, mountain bikes, SWAT, range and water, school resource, etc.—training and certification are usually required. I believe the motors unit is in a class all its own. The motorcycle you ride as an officer will test your physical ability, your tolerance, your emotions and, most importantly, your mind. You may think, “I cannot possibly turn that bike around from a 90-degree angle with a wall two feet in front of me and keep both feet up.” But you can! It’s merely your mind thinking it cannot be done, but the bike will show you it can. You may fall or drop the bike (many times, in my case), but you will learn from each and every drop and fall that only you control where that motorcycle goes.

I never imagined after 10 years of road patrol, auto theft investigations, and community policing that I would become a motor officer. I had always disliked issuing citations and investigating crashes, but after riding around on two wheels for these last few years, there is no other specialized unit of which Id rather be a part.
Being a female motor officer in a massively male-dominated field provides a truly great feeling of accomplishment. I don’t feel there is any “special” treatment—I simply get some extra respect for doing it. I have to work twice as hard as my male counterparts to reach my goals, but I know I can do it, and I have overwhelming support from my fellow motors. Often I come across citizens whose first words are, “Wow, I’ve never seen a female motor cop. Cool!” I just have to laugh and appreciate the compliment (with sweaty helmet hair). It is especially rewarding when I encounter other females who give me a thumbs up or say the famous words, “You go, girl!”

Tinas personal motorcycle is a 2011 apple-green Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

It seems women have to work harder to reach their goals, especially when choosing a professional field dominated by men. I am proof that women can reach those goals and expectations if they want to. Don’t ever give up—do what it is you want to do!

Now when I ride my personal motorcycle and pull up next to “those guys”—you know, those tough guys who have been riding 25 or 30 years—and ride out of a tight space or in a 16-foot circle with both feet up (and scrape my floorboards while doing it), I raise a few eyebrows and watch jaws drop. Now that is my idea of fun! I thought I knew how to ride a motorcycle before, but now I’ve learned to drive one!

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11 thoughts on Reader Story: The Life of a Female Motor Officer

  1. It’s so inspirational to hear this story. I just joined the traffic unit in my department and spent my first motor training day trying to lift that bike. It’s like I do it once or twice and then I can’t. So frustrating. But after a near death experience last year as a passenger on my husband bike I am determined to get my wings. I can use some tips on lifting the bike. Because unless I can do it I can’t go to motor school. Thanks for making all of us proud.

  2. Yes, you go – girl! Love you, from Mom & Dad”Be careful out there…”

  3. Tina, Great article and obvious skill-set. Thank you for all you and every law enforcement person does every day. Safe travels.

  4. Met her on the Dragon this summer, and she handled that quite well, too.

  5. I am impressed but not surprised. It seems that female riders handle those big bikes better than anyone else. You go girl!

  6. My dad was a CHP back in the olden days when you had to kick start that big bike along with the 20 pound or so of batteries in the saddlebags to run the radio. I think he would have been pretty happy to see women riding in law enforcement, and I wish he was around to see it.

  7. First, I want to say kudos to this lady for “going after what she wanted” and next I want to say, “Teach me to drive, instead of just ride my motorcycle”

  8. This article was not only awesome but inspiring. I ride a big bike, a Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe, and have comments made all the time about how it’s either too big of a bike for me or that it’s “too heavy.” I practice on our skills course, which we have permanently laid out on our seldom used county airport. I have goals, which puts me in an even smaller category for lady riders. I want to enter the civilian motorcycle competition next October at a local event in Redding Calif., Big Bike Weekend. Motor cops come from all over the area and it’s exciting to watch them compete. At this point I’m nervous but with constant practice and inspiring articles like this, I know I can do it. Thank you so much.

  9. So Tina…very impressive! I too ride (firefighter special edition 2002 Harley Road King). Tell us how to accomplish that mind set and tight turns…please! I’m good, but not near that good! Thanks.

  10. A very inspiring article and a testament to Tina’s abilities.

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