Officer Tina Leman

Officer Tina Leman

In law enforcement, motor officers are distinguished as the top 2% of this field. Female motor officers, like me, are distinguished as the top 0.2% (roughly) of law enforcement. Now that's accomplishment. What it took to get there wasn't an average walk in the park.

I endured the required two weeks (80 hours in the Florida heat) of physical and emotional drain to become a certified motor officer. When referring to the basic motorcycle officer training class, I had a fellow officer (and retired Marine) say, "That was worse than SWAT school."

Whichever specialized unit you choose—motors, mountain bikes, SWAT, range and water, school resource—training and certification are usually required. I believe motors is in a class of its own. The motor you ride will test your physical abilities, tolerance, 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 is merely your mind thinking it cannot be done; the bike will show you it's possible. 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 motor goes.

I never imagined after 10 years combined 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 I would rather be a part of.

Being a female motor officer in a massively male-dominant field is truly a great feeling of accomplishment. I don't feel there is any special treatment; merely an 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 fellow motors.

Often I will come across citizens whose first words are, "Wow, I've never seen a female motor cop. Cool!" Those words are sometimes followed by flattery, "and pretty at that!" I just have to laugh and appreciate the compliment (with sweaty helmet hair). It is especially rewarding when I encounter other females who either give me a thumbs up, or say the famous words, "You go, girl!"

As females, it seems we have to work harder to reach our goals, especially when the professional field chosen is dominated by men. I am proof that we can reach those goals and expectations if we want to. Don't ever give up, and do what it is you want to do.

Now, when I ride my personal motorcycle and pull up next to "those guys" who have been riding for 25 to 30 years, and I ride out of a tight space, or ride a 16-foot circle with both feet up—and scrape my floorboards while doing it—I quickly raise heads, and watch jaws drop. Now that is my idea of fun. I thought I knew how to ride a motorcycle before, but now I have learned to drive one!

Tina Leman is a motor officer and traffic homicide investigator with the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department. She is a 12-year veteran who holds an master's in exercise science and a bachelor's in english literature.