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2012 Heartland Police Motorcycle Challenge - Independence, Missouri

Written by  October 1, 2012

The annual Heartland Police Motorcycle Challenge took place on Thursday, September 13, through Saturday, September 15 in the Macy’s parking lot at the Independence Center mall in Independence, Missouri. Spectators were welcome, and those who came enjoyed a remarkable demonstration of skilled motorcycle riding by the participating officers.

Missouri units represented included the host Independence Police Department, Kansas City Police Department, Lee’s Summit Police Department, Wood Heights Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, and St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department. Those from the Kansas side of the state line were the Lenexa and Shawnee Police Departments and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. Most of the participants were Harley-Davidson mounted, but Victory and Kawasaki were also represented. More than twenty officers participated, fewer than last year due to budget constraints at some departments.

Hundreds of orange cones and a few green ones were placed to mark the course to be followed by the competitors. There were narrow and wide weaves, a section to accelerate and decelerate in time to negotiate an offset and a series of curves, a figure-eight area, and a cross-shaped area referred to as “the intersection.” There was a separate area set up for the four-man challenge, an event new to this year’s competition. The section consisted of two adjacent circles with a curved entrance/exit. The team of four officers entered the section in tandem. As they negotiated the circles a different rider was the first to exit each time so that the lead changed (first in, last out-only the leader into the circle went around twice). Teams were assembled via a random drawing.

Thursday was a practice day. Friday began with a briefing concerning the scoring and an explanation of how the four-man event would be conducted. The morning’s activities continued with the first rounds of the four-man, some individual practice, a slow-ride competition, and a business meeting of the Heartland Police Motorcycle Association . The organization was founded in 2010 with the goal of emphasizing the importance of continued training in an effort to improve the safety of police motorcycle operations in conjunction with raising money for various charity organizations or groups. The association schedules regular training not only for precision riding but also for escort duty and for special tactics. This meeting was the last one prior to the election of new officers, and certificates of appreciation were presented to several individuals in recognition of their contributions to the organization over the past year. Larry Petree, the outgoing president, mentioned that the voting would conclude and the new officer team would be announced on Saturday.

Friday afternoon began with more four-man runs followed at about 2:00 p.m. by the two-man competition. For that event, a short tether with a magnet at each end was fastened to the rear of both bikes. Each team would weave side-by-side through a set of cones, reverse course, and weave back through the cones. Teams that failed to complete the course with the tether still attached to both bikes were disqualified. Of the remaining teams, the three with the quickest times won awards. The remainder of Friday afternoon was devoted to more practice.

The first item on Saturday’s agenda was the orientation of several volunteers who assisted in tracking penalties that resulted from tipping over or moving cones or deviating from the course. They would also reset cones as required after each run. Attire had been somewhat casual for the competitors on Thursday and Friday with some wearing jeans. Saturday was formal with all the officers looking very sharp in full uniform. The morning course emphasized precision and control and was not timed. The riders who had perfect runs made an additional pass, on the clock this time, to determine first through third place awards.

Saturday afternoon, a few cones were moved to produce a slight alteration of the course, and the timed runs began with each competitor had two opportunities to make runs. Penalty time was added for tipping or moving cones or touching a foot to the ground. Leaving the course or dropping the bike resulted in a disqualification for that pass. At one point, a couple of officers apparently decided that a bit of levity was in order. They introduced their own version of the two-man by weaving through the cones with both aboard the same motorcycle. It was something to see, and everyone got a good laugh. Another funny moment resulted as an officer was ready to enter the timed course and the music being played over the P.A. system began blasting out Melanie's Brand New Key otherwise known at The Rollerskate Song. The rider dismounted and refused to make his run until a more appropriately macho tune was selected. After the timed single runs, the four-man competition continued.

All day Saturday the public was invited to visit displays of antique police cars and current emergency response and rescue vehicles from the Lee’s Summit and Independence Police Departments and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Lee's Summit PD set up a bicycle course for the youngsters. Near the end of the event, the Lee’s Summit P.D. canine unit brought out one of their dogs to demonstrate how these magnificent animals assist in apprehending suspects and sniffing out narcotics..

At the conclusion of the Challenge, the officers posed for group photos, and awards were presented to the top three finishers in each of the events and to the top overall scorer (Top Gun). A list of winners appears below. The results of the organization’s officer elections were announced, and Bill McCombs from the Lenexa Police Department will take over as president.

Throughout the Challenge, great skill was demonstrated in maneuvering these heavy motorcycles with tires screeching and footboards scraping the pavement as the officers pushed their bikes and themselves to the limits. A few bikes were dropped, a natural result of riding so close to the edge.

To get a better appreciation of what goes on at the Challenge, watch Randall 'Sea Hawk' Hauk’s videos from the event.
For Four-man exercise click here.
For Slow ride click here.

For Long Course click here


List of Winners:

Speed Course:
1st Place - David Lantz, Kansas City MO Police Department - 01:25.5 
2nd Place - Bill McCombs, Lenexa KS Police Department - 01:27.9 
3rd Place - Ben Griffin, Lee's summit MO Police Department - 01:29.9

Accuracy Course: 
1st Place - Shawn Hamre, Kansas City MO Police Department - 01:58.1 
2nd Place - Jason Meadors, Independence MO Police Department - 01:59.5 
3rd Place - James Murphy, Jackson County MO Sheriff's Department - 02:01.0

Speed & Accuracy Combined Challenge Results: 
1st Place - David Lantz, Kansas City MO Police Department - 01:25.5 
2nd Place - Ben Griffin, Lee's Summit MO Police Department - 01:29.9 
3rd Place - Shawn Hamre, Kansas City MO Police Department - 01:30.6

4-Man Ride: 
1st Place – Team 2 - Ben Griffin, Lee's Summit MO PD - David Lantz, Kansas City MO PD - James Murphy, Jackson County MO SD - Ryan Mercer, Jasper County MO SD – 00:37.1 
2nd Place – Team 1 - Jason Spaeth, Lee's Summit MO PD - Shawn Hamre, Kansas City MO PD - Jared Sartin, Wood Heights MO PD - Greg Smith, Johnson County KS SD – 00:37.2 
3rd Place – Team 4 - Ed Wisdom, Independence MO PD - Chris Decker, St. Charles County MO SD - Bill McCombs, Lenexa KS PD - Ben Griffin, Lee's Summit MO PD - 00:40.5

Partner Ride: 
1st Place – Team 2 - David Lantz, Kansas City MO PD - Shawn Hamre, Kansas City MO PD – 00:14.5 
2nd Place – Team 3 - Bill McCombs, Lenexa KS PD - Chris Decker, St. Charles County SD – 00:15.6 
3rd Place – Team 4 - Jason Meadors, Independence MO PD - Ed Wisdom, Independence MO PD – 00:17.2

Slow Ride: 
1st Place- Mike Pyle, Independence MO Police Department - 00:21.8
2nd Place - David Lantz, Kansas City MO Police Department - 00:21.3
3rd Place - James Murphy, Jackson County MO Sheriff's Department - 00:20.4

Thanks to the volunteers and the following sponsors:
Rockhill Orthopedic Specialists, Inc., RadioOne, Costco, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Robin, Rib Crib, Smokehouse BBQ, Joe's Crab Shack, Logan’s Steakhouse, HyVee, and Sam’s Club

Heartland Police Motorcycle Association Outgoing Officers:
President - Larry Petree, Independence MO Police Department
Vice President - Lee Graves, Leawood KS Police Department
Secretary - Calie Smith, Olathe KS Police Department
Treasurer - Ben Griffin, Lee's Summit MO Police Department, Katie Griffin, Meridian Tax & Accounting, LLC 
Training Coordinator - Bill McCombs, Lenexa KS Police Department 
Marketing Coordinator - Bob Knudsen, Jackson County MO Sheriff's Department 
General Member - Jason Meadors, Independence MO Police Department

2012-2013 Officers:
President - Bill McCombs, Lenexa KS Police Department
Vice President: - Jason Meadors, Independence MO Police Department
Secretary - Calie Smith, Olathe KS Police Department
Treasurer - Katie Griffin, Meridian Tax & Accounting, LLC 
Training Coordinator – open
Marketing Coordinator - Ben Griffin, Lee's Summit MO Police Department
General Member: - open

Group photos of officers on their bikes by Robin Czerwonka (Photos By Design) 
Article and all other photos by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Video by Randall “Sea Hawk “ Hauk

Special thanks to Motorcycle Officer Larry Petree, the Heartland Police Motorcycle Association, the Independence Police Department, Independence Center, and Greg from Independence Power & Light.


Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at