Deputies team up for motorcycle safety
October 19, 2006 - By Joann Groff - Thousand Oaks Acorn - thacorn.com
SAFE SPEED-Detective Hugh Mosquera, third from left, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, second from right, and members of the L.A. Sheriff's Department Motorsports division (with some young friends) encourage motorcycle safety through LASD Motorsports, which offers off-road training.
Hugo Mosquera has always had a passion for motorcycles. Since he was young, Mosquera has loved cruising the open road, as many riders do today. But according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detective, the difference he sees between himself and too many of today's bikers is training.
Mosquera has used his platform to start a program dedicated to keeping bikers safe. The group's members confront street- and dirt-bike riders in unauthorized areas and encourage them to come out to a track for safer riding.
"LASD Motorsports is made up of a group of deputies that find the need for safety on the streets and safety in the dirt," Mosquera said. "We try to get (riders) to come out to the track with us, where they can learn how to ride their motorcycles in an area that's safe, clear of any obstructions like other motorists and road debris."
RIDING RIGHT-Racing on a track offers the opportunity for speed but eliminates some of the unexpected danger of riding on public streets.
Safety became a more personal issue for Mosquera and his team two months ago, when a fellow deputy, Jim Mulay, was struck by a fleeing bank robber. Mulay was seriously injured after a man allegedly intentionally crashed his car into Mulay's motorcycle in an attempt to escape capture in Malibu. Mulay is recovering, Mosquera said, and currently undergoing rehabilitation.
A recent fundraiser for the Mulay family was hosted at The Canyon in Agoura Hills.
"This has been a huge strain on the family, financially and in other ways," said Mosquera. The concert was expected to help pay outofpocket expenses the family has faced, he said.
Accidents like Mulay's inspired the group of working, reserve and retired deputies to start taking instructional trips to the Willow Springs track in Rosamond, Calif. Their free lessons include everything from clutch and throttle control, balance and counter-steering to effective braking methods.
"We hope the techniques they've learned with us on the track will help them on the street and give them an appreciation for riding safely," Mosquera said. "Most people that come out with us, they get hooked. They don't even want to ride on the streets anymore, and if they do, they want to do it safely."
Only a year into the road racing program, Mosquera said the number of people who volunteer has grown from two to more than 15. And working with similar organizations and scouting biker hangouts has resulted in a lot of interested riders.
"We try to bridge the gap by going to places where they hang out and reaching out to them," Mosquera said. "When I used to be a motor officer, I would see large amounts of motorcyclists and I would warn them and invite them out to the track with us. I would encourage them to take some type of safety class. I was always trying to provide service in any shape or form."
Another important part of L.A. Motorsports is its RACE program for children. Rewarding Achievement in Classroom Education emphasizes faster reading.
"We saw there was an opportunity to adopt several schools in L.A. County and reward students for academic achievement as well as attendance," Mosquera said.
Middle school and high school programs are a bit different; students are nominated by teachers for their academic and extracurricular activities or other achievements. Prizes such as MP3 players and video games are donated by local businesses to kids who excel.
"The reason we're doing this is as an incentive to encourage learning and help young people to set goals," Mosquera said. "We want to have positive interaction with the community, so that they may have a good relationship with law enforcement in the future."
Conejo Valley schools are outside the area covered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and so cannot be adopted, but Mosquera said he still wants to visit the Conejo schools to give his presentation.
"I will be making appearances at CVUSD schools," Mosquera said. "My kids are old enough to go to schools out here, and I want to be there."
The road racing division, of which Mosquera is president, was added to L.A. Motorsports a year ago, and a dirt bike division has recently been added.
Mosquera contributes a lot of time to the group, sitting at booths at motorcycle shops and visiting schools. He's made about 180 such appearances so far this year.
"I learned there was a proper way to ride," Mosquera said. "You can go just as fast-- even faster--on a race track and you don't have to worry about a lot . . . You aren't going to get in trouble, you're not going to get hurt and you're not going to hurt other people."
For additional information about L.A. Motorsports, visit www.lasdroadracing.com on the Internet.