LACONIA — From a distance, the orange cones set up for police motorcycle training school don't seem to have any rhyme or rhythm and the lone motorcyclist navigating them just appears to be just riding around.
Up close, individual circular, square and lengthwise patterns become evident as Laconia Master Patrol Officer Robb Sedgely carefully navigates his way through them on a tarmac at the Laconia Municipal Airport.
Sedgely, who is expected to complete his training by today, will be the fifth motorcycle police officer active in the Laconia Police Department and one of two who will be on routine patrol throughout the city this summer. Officer Richard Bassett will share the patrol duties while Sgt. Gary Hubbard and Lts. Rich Simmons and Al Graton won't be on regular motorcycle duty but are trained and ready if needed.
The motorcycle class for area officers is offered once annually and is taught by Alton Police Officer Sean Sullivan and Gilford Police Officer Kevin Baron. Both share routine motorcycle shifts in their respective communities.
Baron said training teaches motorcycle officers how to navigate tight turns designed for mobility in traffic jams and weaving safely through traffic to reach an accident or crime scene.
"Don't forget," he said pointing to the cone course set up to resemble a traffic jam. "Each cone represents another motorist's fender or foot."
Other exercises train an officer to avoid debris on roads, how to come off an sharp turn and stop a 700-pound motorcycle within a few feet and how to "lay it down" and not get injured if it comes to that.
"I've got bruises all over the outsides of my legs," said Sedgely with a grin after he took a short break from his training. "I've probably dumped it 200 or 300 times."
For safety (of the motorcycle) all of the trim and outer metal is wrapped in firehose to prevent damage during training.
"Balance is everything," Sedgely said, noting that a motorcycle officer pretty much carries on his or her person everything an officer in a cruiser carries including, in some communities, a computer.
"Everything is moving but his head stays in a straight line," said Baron while pointing as Sedgley navigated an "S" turn course.
Sedgley, who has been riding a motorcycle for years, said riding as a police officer is a whole new concept.
"This has been one of the toughest courses ever," he said, noting the precision that must be used to navigate through the course. "You have to learn to trust the bike. It wants to go in a straight line."
"I definitely have a new appreciation for every cop who rides one of these," he concluded.
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