Staying cool: How motorcycle officers survive the scorching Arizona heat

Posted: Updated:
Staying cool in the Arizona sun for a motorcycle officer is no easy task, especially in the triple-digit heat. Experienced officers do have a few tricks up their sleeves, however. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/WLBT/AP Images/Chandler PD) Staying cool in the Arizona sun for a motorcycle officer is no easy task, especially in the triple-digit heat. Experienced officers do have a few tricks up their sleeves, however. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/WLBT/AP Images/Chandler PD)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Take a step outside on an average July day in the Phoenix area and you'll be sweating within minutes, possibly even seconds, of the triple-digit heat.

Now imagine sitting on top of a red-hot running motor, wearing 15 to 20 pounds of gear, on top of the scorching blacktop.

That's just another eight-to 10-hour day working for the traffic unit as a motor officer in the Chandler and Phoenix police departments.

So, what's the secret to staying cool in the Phoenix metropolitan area? Well, it's not too much different from how anyone else would stay cool while handling the high temperatures. Stay hydrated and run, or in this case, ride to shade.

"What I do in the summer is go to a couple collisions and then get back inside, either in a precinct station or a restaurant and finish up writing the report while cooling down," said Dan Malone, an 18-year veteran motor officer with the Phoenix police. "We drink a lot of water and find shade as often as we can during investigations. It's easy to dress for the cold but not for the heat."

Malone said he drinks about a gallon and a half of water per shift.

[APP USERS: Click here to view photo]

Chandler officer Scott Veach, who has been in the traffic unit for 10 years, said traffic in law enforcement is something you either love or despise. Some are either naturally drawn to it or have a passion for it. 

Similarly, being a motor officer comes with its own honor and dedication despite the brutal temperatures.

"We [the police department] also provide the opportunity for the traffic officers to get a vehicle," said Veach. "Most are reluctant to do so as there is some pride that goes along with being a motor."

Most would assume the fewer clothes you wear, the better off officers are at keeping cold. However, Malone attests to wearing long sleeves over short sleeves while out on patrol because it shields your skin from direct sunlight.

With a combined 28 years of experience, advancements in technology has had some impact on preventing overheating.

"The newer helmets have better venting to allow for air flow and the newer motorcycles are designed to deflect the heat to a degree," said Veach. However, with the ballistic vests they wear, officers receive little to no air circulation to help them keep cool.

Another piece of apparel some officers take advantage of are dry-fit shirts. While they don't keep you cool, they do keep you dry, said Malone. This keeps from officers becoming soaked in sweat after a long day of work.

One thing some may not consider that is heavily identified with the Valley's summer months? Dealing with the monsoon storms.

[APP USERS: Click here to view photo]

"Without question, it's the heat, secondly would be the humidity in the monsoon season," said Veach. "Frankly, there is no way to avoid it and it's something we are all aware of. You just accept the fact that you are going to be hot and have to cool off when you can, or as time allows it."

Last but not least, officers try and take care of their own, said Malone. Keeping an eye out for signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion is vital. 

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.