Why Don’t You Ride with A Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club?
My friends call me Pablo. I’ve been around organized motorcycling for over forty years. For most of that time I was an active law enforcement officer with credentials in two states. I am now retired from active law enforcement. I am currently employed with a private company that provides goods and services to all manner of public safety agencies.
Let me start by saying that I and everyone I associate with are unequivocal supporters of law enforcement and all things public safety including Law Enforcement Motorcycle Clubs.
For me personally, the reason I don’t ride with an LEMC started out as purely geographical. There aren’t any LEMCs within 100 miles of my home. Even when I lived in California in the 1980’s and 1990’s the closest Blue Knights LEMC chapter was in Los Angeles, some 70 miles away. With a family and a busy work and school schedule this was not doable for me. But I did find a place with the Goldwing Road Riders Association-Chapter C1-O in Orange County, right in my neighborhood. We had a few LEO members but over 90% were civilians. These were great years. Lots of fun times and lasting friendships. We even formed a motorcycle drill team that became very popular at local parades. My identity as a biker did not in any way depend on my identity as a law enforcement officer or vice versa.
In the late 1990s I relocated to Utah and for a few years I did not ride. Then a Utah based Public Safety Motorcycle Club caught my eye. The membership was public safety volunteers, a few LEOs, but again mostly civilians. The premise of service to others attracted me. After I patched in what I saw was a contest of egos among people in leadership positions, none of whom had any real leadership skills. While there was limited successful service to others, exploitation and abuse of the members caused a predictable implosion; the club failed in Utah and two chapters folded. I believe that the leaders failed the membership.
Shortly after 2010 those of us who were left started a new Public Safety MC and within one year the same problems reappeared. Self-appointed, feckless leaders repeated their previous mistakes and caused this new club to fail. I should add that the “leaders” insisted upon adding an LE cube to their kutte when they only had one remote member who was a retired LEO, against the wishes of the general membership. This particular club is now on life support in Utah with less than five members remaining. For me, the only good thing that came from this time period is that in 2013 The Alliance was formed and I was invited to help establish the original advisory board, author the by-laws, and hold our first national meeting. The original advisory board members appointed me to serve as chairman. I remain in this position today.
After two club failures, I had to decide whether to continue or just go solo independent. It took months of deliberation, talking to friends and associates, and discussions with family to find a path forward.
Enter the Full Throttle Full Mag Riding Association - founded by John and Jossalyn Larson. Because of our standing association via The Alliance, we decided that we could use FTFM to promote the Alliance which was open to all law abiding motorcycle organizations. We set about standing up the first operating chapter of FTFM in early 2015. There was no shortage of interested potential members because there was no other organization geographically positioned, and open to ALL law-abiding public safety supporters. We ended up with a healthy cross-section of our local community. Tight associations and lifelong friendships have formed. Attrition is limited to those we’ve lost (sadly too many) to the cemetery. I attribute our success and longevity to one thing - Friendship without conditions.
I’ve been able to apply the lesson of the Alliance, (Diplomacy based upon common sense and common courtesy) to the operation and sustainability of FTFM.
If you want your club to succeed you must give the members the club they want. If you don’t serve your members first, you can’t serve anyone else.
The melding of law-abiding citizens and public safety practitioners into a riding association that supports public safety opened the door to our local community without exclusion. This is the same philosophy that is the foundation for The Alliance. For this reason, The Alliance is made up of law-abiding motorcycle clubs, riding clubs, and associations, each with the identity that best describes who they actually are.
In today's MC world, there is too much disingenuous representation which breeds distrust and conflict. Honesty is the best policy. Just be who you are. Give Respect-Get Respect. You’ll be around a lot longer.
The reason that I, as a lifelong law enforcement officer, didn’t attempt to start an LEMC, is that I never lived in a place where the appropriate numbers of LEOs were available or interested. Calling FTFM, with predominantly civilian members, an LEMC was never an option. We chose to identify as a Riding Association because it truly reflects who we are, and it works for us.
Ride Safe-Have Fun,
Paul “Pablo” Harnett
President- Full Throttle Full Mag Riding Association-Utah Chapter
Chairman, The Alliance National Advisory Board