SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – After 34 years in law enforcement, one of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s most liked and respected officers is calling it a career. Officer Shane Whiting started out as a small-town kid from Juab County who loved to ride dirt bikes…and ended up spending 28 years serving and protecting on a police motorcycle.
“Hello there. How ya doing?” Officer Whiting asked a motorist he pulled over on a recent Thursday afternoon. “Do you have a driver’s license and registration?”
It’s a conversation Officer Whiting has had tens of thousands of times, often resulting in him writing a ticket.
“It’s over 40,000 citations,” Officer Whiting says. “And that’s not including all the DUIs I’ve arrested and all the traffic accidents I’ve investigated.”
And not one formal complaint along the way. Officer Whiting says it’s because he shows every driver respect.
“I just treat ’em how I would expect to be treated,” he told Behind the Badge. “Or I should say, how my parents taught me how to treat people.”
The Air Force veteran started out his SLCPD career by patrolling Rose Park then a Sergeant named James Faraone told him he should apply to attend motorcycle school.
“I filled out the application to do it and then I heard the horror stories of the crashes in motor schools on our old KZ1000s without the anti-lock braking systems so I withdrew my application, wrinkled it up and threw it in the trash can,” Whiting recalls. “Right before the motor school started I got a letter of acceptance with my application stapled to it that was all wrinkled up. Sgt. Faraone took it out of the garbage can and submitted it for me.”
The assignment that almost never happened resulted in 28 years of motorcycle duty, eventually the spot as the lead instructor for motorcycle squad training and lots of stories along the way.
“How much time do you have?” he asks with a laugh.
Like the time he encountered a man he had put in prison for drugs years earlier.
“He held his hand out and said thank you,” Officer Whiting remembers. “Extended his hand and said ‘Thanks for saving my life’.”
Another time, a wild pursuit of a drug suspect resulted in a crash, a fistfight and then a foot chase.
“He’s running away from me but he’s reaching into his jacket and this whole time I assumed he had a gun because he told me he was going to shoot me,” Officer Whiting said. “So I pulled my gun out and I was just moments, milliseconds away from pulling the trigger and his coat comes off so he was taking his coat off.”
That suspect was later arrested with no further incident. Better memories are the times he’s escorted motorcades for U.S. Presidents, LDS Apostles, and even the Dalai Lama…and all the parades, including riding in 28 straight Pioneer Day parades.
“The kids love us. The people love us,” Whiting said about the parade crowds. “There are so many more people out there that love law enforcement officers than hate us. It’s just loud right now.”
And Whiting says it’s almost time to park his bike for good.
“It’s going to be sad. I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said. “It’s what I love to do. First of all, riding a motorcycle. Second of all, I get to help people whether they realize they’re being helped at the time I stop ’em or not.”
Officer Whiting will hang up his boots and helmet for the final time on September 1st. Then he says he’ll spend more time with his kids and grandkids, do some hunting and fishing…and maybe ride off into the sunset on a motorcycle of his own.