After two years as Isbell Middle School’s Resource Officer, Eric Burnett, shown astride his ST 1300 Honda, is now patrolling the streets of Santa Paula as the SPPD Motorcycle Officer.

SPPD Motorcycle Officer Burnett wants to emphasize safety education

February 01, 2017
Santa Paula News

Eric Burnett, Santa Paula Police’s latest motorcycle officer wants to emphasize safety education over infractions in his new job astride a ST 1300 Honda. 

Burnett, who joined the Santa Paula Police Department eight years ago as a Reserve Officer, is on the street after undergoing motorcycle training.

The course is designed to teach officers the techniques of riding dual-purpose motorcycles safely on and off-road. Training includes slow cone pattern skills in addition to off-road riding skills as well as practical application in pullover and approach, live fire exercise, emergency braking and collision avoidance maneuver techniques.

But dealing with the public is what Burnett, a former School Resource Officer at Isbell Middle School, is looking forward too.

“I was at Isbell for the whole time, two full years,” an experience Burnett believes “Makes the community have a stronger tie with the police department. I will be out and do traffic stops and the kids in the cars always say hi to me!”

Burnett, who grew up in Orange County, was a SPPD Reserve for five years before becoming a full-time officer.

Why the SPPD? “Santa Paula was the first agency that hired me after the Reserve Academy,” he said with a grin. 

Burnett, who owned an auto-detailing service when he was a SPPD Reserve, was already experienced in riding cycles off-road.

Wanting to be a motorcycle officer did not start until he became a full-time member of the SPPD three years ago.  

He sees his new position as a way “Of just helping people drive safer, slowing down. I look forward to aspects of it,” including learning more about accident and incident analysis. 

“Eventually,” Burnett noted, “my goal is to be a traffic collision investigator.”

He believes there are “way too many” accidents and near-misses in Santa Paula: “Our biggest issues have to do with pedestrian safety, cell phone use is a big thing, not wearing seat belts, kids not being in restraints…I especially want to focus on the safety of children and pedestrians.”

Bicycle Safety Rodeos are enjoyed by school children that learn vital safety measures: “Last year we did five rodeos, which included pedestrian safety for grades four and five. Next year we’ll probably do it again for the same grades,” and continue every year, so “that way we’ll get all the kids as they grow up.” 

“I know the Isbell students really enjoyed Officer Burnett,” said Police Chief McLean. “He’s a well-liked guy who has a real calling for police work and serving the community. And, being a motorcycle officer takes a particular personality that Officer Burnett has, part cop and part ambassador.” 

Burnett noted, “A large part of my duty is educating the public on the rules of the road,” especially as Santa Paula has a high accident rate that must be lowered.

There are two categories of accidents, reportable and minor incidents known as information exchange. Burnett said there were 79 minor accidents last year in Santa Paula but 94 reportable collisions that generated police reports and in some cases injuries, a rate that is higher than other cities. 

Tinted windows are a concern: “Having them too dark is an infraction because it is dangerous. They even warn the customers,” that extreme window tinting is illegal but shop owners are not obligated to turn away the business.

“People must be aware of the new child safety laws. A lot of people don’t know that,” formula for weight and seat usage. 

In addition, “Car seats have expiration dates, if they’re ever involved in an accident they have to be replaced.”

Speed, noted Burnett, is always a dangerous infraction.

“Don’t be in a rush to be in an accident,” he said. “Take the time to drive safely.”





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