KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Friday marks day one of Women Riders Month, a date set by the motorcycle riding community. This proves timely for some of the newest students at the Kansas City Police Department’s Riding Academy. Dozens of officers have trained at the police riding track in the Northland, but after the current round of students, there’s a new type of rider set to hit the streets.
Officer Devon Stewart said she isn’t paving any type of path. A five-year veteran of the force, the two-year motorcycle rider decided to challenge herself by taking her hobby to the next level.
“I guess I don’t see it as unique because I’ve been working with guys the whole time and a lot of women too. I wanted to see if I could do. I know it’s challenging and I wanted to see if I could do it for myself,” Stewart said.
A challenging two-week motorcycle course with classwork, that if passed, will allow the officers to join the Kansas City Police Traffic Enforcement Unit, manned with cars and motorcycles.
Larry Parks is a retired police officer. Now, he teaches people how to ride motorcycles at Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandview.
“Because of their size, they can do things that police officers in cars cannot do. In some of the classes that I teach, sometimes the best riders I have in class are the women,” Parks said.
Parks said the rising trend of women motorcyclists is one he encourages both for personal riding and for police.
“Now you’re starting to see more women who want to ride police motorcycles and I think it’s a great trend where we can get more women doing things in police work," he said.
Officer Anthony White is one the motorcycle instructors at the police riding academy. He said the difficulty is what inspired him to join the traffic division years ago, and then become an instructor.
"It’s very difficult. It’s challenging mentally and physically,” he said.
White said what he teaches on the course isn’t gender-specific and he’s glad to see his unit diversifying.
“I don’t instruct to a woman; I instruct to the individual. Anybody that has the abilities and the skills to do it is successful at it,” White said.
“I think if any girl puts their mind to it, they can do it, as well as any guy,” Stewart said.
There are two female officers in the course, and if they pass, they’ll be only the fourth and fifth in the department’s history to ride in that motorcycle unit; the first in more than a decade.