TEMPLE - Temple Police Officer Ryan Cabral has been riding motorcycles for 13 years. He even raced them. So when Cabral joined the traffic unit, there was no question what he would be using.
"I enjoy the freedom of the road," Cabral said. "It's just a different feeling when you are out there on a motorcycle rather than being stuck in a cage - a car."
But even on the days when it's under 30 degrees, or nearly 100 degrees outside, he stays on that bike. In fact, he only takes the cruiser when there is ice on the road. But whatever vehicle Temple traffic officers use, most use their lidar guns out in the open where everyone can see. Turns out, it's on purpose.
"We're not out here just to write people tickets," Cabral said. "We want people to know that we are watching. If I can stop accidents by just being visible I prefer to do that."
But while Cabral said the vast majority of people do see them, and do slow down, sometimes the only way to get the message across is with a citation. And with the holiday traffic, it's been busier than normal.
"We write from as low as 20 stops a today to as many as 50," Cabral said.
In 2017, the Temple Police Department wrote 2,464 traffic citations. Crash data for 2017 is not yet available from TxDOT but in 2016 there were 17 fatalities due to car crashes in Bell County. Speeding was a factor in 12 of those cases.
On Wednesday, posted near the Midway exit, Cabral and another officer only had to wait a minute or less to catch someone speeding. Officers can tag cars more than 1000 feet away with their lidar guns so some days the only thing slowing the officers down is exhaustion.
"I've only had over fifty violator contacts once since I've been on the motorcycles, and I tell you, making that many stops and getting off that bike, it's draining, Cabral said.
Still, Cabral and other officers are out every day. Not only for the people who speed or drive dangerously but for those who could be put in harm's way.
"It could be you, it could be me, it could be my kids going down the roadway," Cabral said. "Sometimes we got to freeze it out, sometimes we got to sweat it out, but it's very important to be out here doing the job."
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