by Jim Nintzel
Arizona-Sonora News Service Legislative Reporter Bethany Barnes sends us the following dispatch from yesterday's Senate Public Safety Committee hearing:
Arizona may have the best weather for motorcyclists, but it doesn’t matter if you can ride year-round when you keep getting hassled by The Man.
Rollin Knights Motorcycle Club member Billy “Rooster” Lockedy, 35, is hoping the passing of SB 1086 out of the Senate Public Safety Committee will make the weather a little easier to enjoy.
Bikers from all over the state swarmed the Capitol for the hearing of a bill that would require police to be trained to not profile motorcyclists.
The hearing room was so packed people trickled out into the hallway.
Testimony was limited because of the number of people wanting to speak. Those who did shouted (the microphones were broken, to the audience’s chagrin) stories about hour-long traffic stops, being held at gunpoint with no idea why, and watching a drug-sniffing dog bite a fellow rider.
On the opposing side was Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.
Mann said he acknowledged that there is an issue but countered that additional training can’t solve the issue.
The bill would make it so police would learn not to take action against someone just because they ride a motorcycle or wear motorcycle-related paraphernalia.
Those are requirements that would be impossible to define, said Mann, arguing that by that logic police would only be able to question a few of the people in the room.
The other tricky part?
One of the things police are taught to look for when spotting a motorcycle gang is patches and colors, Mann said, to shouts from the patched and colors-clad crowd.
It was at this point that Rep. Chester Crandell (R-LD 6) had to remind everyone to cool it—a reminder he would need to repeat a few times during the lively hearing.
In an attempt to soothe concerns, Mann offered business cards with a special email just for motorcycle complaints.
The bill passed to hoops, hollers and raised fists of support.
Crandell cautioned against enthusiasm, reminding everyone the bill still needed to pass through the entire House and Senate.
The committee offered to meet and discuss floor amendments that would help bikers and law enforcement find a compromise.
Similar legislation outlawing motorcycle profiling passed in Washington in 2011.
Grady “Tiny” Dillon, 57 of Apache Junction, said he hopes the legislation will not only stop bikers from being harassed, but help police pay more attention to motorcyclists who need their help. Dillon wears a patch for Kimberly “Kimmy” Chapman. Dillon said he believes Chapman’s death wasn’t fully investigated because of her notoriety as a biker.
“They look at us and they go 'gangs,'” Lockedy said. “We’re not gangs, we’re clubs. All we want to do is get together and have a good time.”