Community impact is what initially attracted Paramus Police Sgt. Brian Linden to law enforcement.
Being a motorcycle officer is what he says allowed him to do the job even better.
"People are much more comfortable having conversations with motor officers," said Linden, who joined the Paramus PD in 2000.
"Maybe it's because they have motorcycling in common or it just gives them something to talk about, but people love to chat with us.
"It's always great because it reminds people that we are human too."
Six years after joining the department and shortly after the birth of his first child, Linden got his first bike: A Harley Sportster.
"When I rode prior to going through advanced training, I thought I knew how to ride," Linden said. "What I found out was that I knew next to nothing."
Fast forward 13 years, and Linden has become one of the top riders in the U.S. and an integral part of the Paramus PD's motorcycle unit.
The traffic sergeant placed first in the intermediate division of the Palmetto Police Motorcycle Skills and Training Competition in Myrtle Beach in April.
The following month, he took home second place in two of four events and third place overall of the expert division at the Mid-Atlantic Motorcycle Skills and Training Competition in Pittsburg -- making him among the top motorcycle officers in the U.S.
Linden sees every ride as an opportunity for growth.
"Every time I get on that bike and practice, I'm improving," he said.
"I'm a huge advocate for training and more training, because those are the life-saving skills that will keep motorcycle riders safe."
The Paramus PD's motorcycle unit is used for everyday patrol and enforcement. Motor officers are deployed on escorts, dignitary events and funerals between two and four times a week.
Linden joined his department's motorcycle unit in 2010, back when there were only two bikes. It didn't take long for him to realize how the motorcycle lent itself to police work, prompting him to enroll in the Maryland State Police Training Program for motor officers in 2012.
Many consider that particular course the most rigorous in law enforcement, with a 40 percent pass-rate for first-timers, Linden said.
After finishing the program, Linden stayed on board at the Mahwah-based facility helping other riders from across the region hone their skills.
"We teach officers how to control the motorcycle safely and how to be efficient in braking," he said. "The vast majority of crashes are due to rider error.
"Most civilian riders don't practice braking. And if they do, it's not nearly enough."
Repetitive training is key for all riders, he said.
Linden's stance on safety is what his colleagues say make him fit for the job.
"Brian is passionate about ensuring the safety of all motor officers we come in contact with and always tries to make sure officers are informed on the proper way to operate as part of the team," said Thomas Schroeder, a Paramus police detective sergeant and motor officer alongside Linden.
"He has given his time and knowledge to anyone that wishes to learn how to be a safer rider and consistently works with riders of all skill levels to help them improve."
Paramus Motor Officer Amit Vaidya says Linden's mentorship and dedication made the difference for him three years ago, when he was preparing to join Paramus PD's motorcycle unit.
"There were times during training when the thought of giving up crossed my mind as it seemed impossible to get through the cone courses he had set up," Vaidya said.
"Sgt. Linden continued to help build that confidence level from day one, and I can clearly say that it is because of him that I am a better rider today."
Along with increasing the motorcycle unit's community involvement, Linden has been credited with its vast growth. The unit picked up its ninth bike last week.
"Brian goes out of his way to engage people at all of our events -- especially children," Schroeder said.
"He tries to leave a positive impact whenever he represents the Paramus PD, and in a more general sense, all law enforcement."
"Being a motorcycle cop is a great achievement," Paramus Deputy Chief Robert Guidetti added. "Leading the motorcycle unit is even a greater achievement.
"Sergeant Linden’s leadership and on-point riding skills are some of the main reasons the Paramus Police Department has such an elite unit."
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