Friday, May 12th, Pampa Police Department hosted Amarillo Police Department for their monthly training for the motor officers. This was the second time Pampa hosted Amarillo, most often held in Amarillo. But the 12th was a different training.
“This one was a bit different,” Motor Sergeant, Jon Hammond said. “We met for our monthly training, but we are also getting ready for the second annual Iron Horse Shootout.”
Each month, Pampa PD and Amarillo PD host training for their motor officers to improve on maneuvering and becoming more well-rounded on their bikes to better serve their community. The training is to heighten the skill sets each officer has while on patrol. Hammond started on the motor patrol in 2016 but has been in law enforcement for 22 years. The motor officers were introduced to Pampa in 2016, with Hammond and another partner. A year ago, Erika Armentrout joined the PD and Hammond as a motor officer. Armentrout is the first and only female motor officer in the history of the Panhandle of Texas. Across the state, there are as few as five-10 female motor officers.
“She’s as tough as they come,” Hammond said. “My partner is special, she’s never ridden a motorcycle before this and she’s taken it well. From day one, we went to one of our stations and I told her I was going to put the bike on its side and if she couldn’t pick it up one time there was no point going forward. She had it no problem, so it was go time from then.”
Motor officers focus on traffic control and enforcement. Patrol officers are running traffic, but are more on top of taking reports.
“Patrol officers have a thousand different things to work on,” Motor Officer, Erika Armentrout said. “So that’s where we come in. Our specific focus is traffic, crashes, and funeral escorts. We want to make the roads safer for everyone on them. We work the crashes when they happen, but of course, we want to prevent those as much as we can.”
But the duo has already proved their value to the community. From bringing crashes down lower to advancing traffic control within Pampa. The training to become a motor officer requires a whole separate training aside from the police academy.
“It is mentally and physically exhausting to complete the training,” Armentrout said. “I went back to my room every night and was so worn out. You’re working every day to learn how to use your bike and be in control. The biggest thing is getting out of your head that bike is going to fall over all the time. Their heavy bikes, a thousand pounds with all the police gear, so it’s a lot of physical but it’s worth it.”
The ‘Iron Horse Shootout’ is a rodeo-style event for motorcycle riders and motor officers across the state and country. The event is a motorcycle skills and training challenge for law enforcement officers and civilian riders. The Iron Horse provides experienced riders a chance to hone their skills while allowing novice riders to learn from the experts. All proceeds from the Iron Horse Shoot Out will go to benefit the 100 Club of the Texas Panhandle, which assists the families of certified peace officers and firefighters who are killed or injured in the line of duty. The 100 Club also provides law enforcement and firefighting agencies with life-protecting equipment that cannot be secured through budgeted funds and agencies.
“The reason we do training leading up to this event is to test our quickness and how fast we can race each other,” Hammond said. “That’s what the rodeo is, it’s racing not in a straight line. It’s more obstacle and who can get through it the fastest.”
Pampa’s motor officers will compete. As well as Amarillo PD, and the surrounding towns’ motor officers. There are non-law enforcement riders in the event. This will be Pampa’s second time in the event, now competing in the expert class.
“Last year, we were in the beginners class, but then this year we jump straight to an expert,” Hammond said. “My partner beat me last year, but I’m old. I still say she’s better than me, age or not. She’s good at what she does.”
There are riders from all over Texas, but also from New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and even the civilian group of riders, Cajun Thunder, from Louisiana.
The event takes place in Amarillo in a new complex for this year. The City of Amarillo built a covered venue for the riders this year, making it the first of its kind. This year the event will take place at 401 S. Grant St. in Amarillo from July 19th through 22nd.
For more information about the Iron Horse Shootout, visit their website at ironhorseshootout.com
Tickets are available online to attend the event and show support for our motor officers Hammond and Armentrout.