Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving Reporter
The Irving Police Department's 10 motor officers brush up on their riding skills.
Irving police's 10 motor officers took their biannual motorcycle tests on Friday morning, a day after responding to the city's biggest accident of the year.
The officers brush up on their riding skills every six months. Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said continuous training allows the officers to respond quickly to scenes such as the fatal charter bus crash on Thursday.
"The motor officers are able to maneuver through the traffic and get up to that accident scene and get the first responders there a lot quicker," he said.
"A few of us were the first officers on scene and in getting to the scene, we're running with our lights and sirens, traffic is backed up, so we're having to make our way around those vehicles in a safe manner where we're not putting ourselves or other motorists in danger," Officer Nathan Gard said.
The unit's 10 officers must score a minimum of 80 percent to pass.
"They get docked anytime they hit a cone," he said. "They knock a cone down or they drop a bike, there's points deducted from their score."
Officer Kevin Palms, who recently transferred to the motorcycle unit after 22 years in different departments, took the test for the first time.
"If you don't practice a lot, your skills can become perishable and, out here, we hit some cones today," he said.
Palms said each cone pattern represented a real-life obstacle or situation.
Officers said long days like the one they had on Thursday are physically and mentally draining, but the testing helps them to stay fresh and alert.
"To ride this on the streets and dealing with all of the other drivers, you have to be confident, because not everyone notices motorcycles, and so we basically have to drive for ourselves and for everyone else and just kind of predict on what other people are going to do," Palms said.
The motor officers range in experience. Some have been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years, while others just passed motor school about a month ago.