Summer is coming so tens of thousands of West Coast motorcycle enthusiasts will be passing through Wyoming in the next five months.
It is a pretty and sparsely populated state. Most of the left coast passes through some part of Wyoming to get to Sturgis every August. This summer, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club will hold its National Run in Cody. And, this year the police in Rock Springs, Wyoming will be better prepared than ever to make life miserable for all those tourists on two wheels. A week ago Steve Cook came to town to offer his “expertise” on the frequently discussed, mostly invisible motorcycle gang menace.
Cook describes himself as a “public figure” and as an “outlaw motorcycle gang expert and documentary television personality.” That is Steve in the photo above, jauntily leaning on a Hells Angels mailbox as if he owned it.
Cook is both the Executive Director and President of a racket called the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. According to one of his many official biographies, “Detective Cook has extensive knowledge and experience in investigating and prosecuting Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. He has prosecuted members of the Fairbanks, Alaska Hell’s (sic) Angel’s (sic) Motorcycle Gang and Colorado Springs, Colorado Sons of Silence Motorcycle Gang for methamphetamine and firearms charges. He has also participated in surveillance operations of ‘church meetings,’ bike shows, and swap meets of several well known
outlaw gangs.” And “Steve has also been featured in the History Channel’s Gang Land (sic) programs on the Outlaws, Bandidos and Galloping Goose, on Biographies (sic) Gangsters Americas Most Evil twice, History Channels (sic) Americas Book of Secrets and Biographies (sic) Gangworld (sic) One Percenters.”
Cook mostly provides training “for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, corrections personnel and criminal analysts addressing the problems and pitfalls of investigations of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.” His assertions are often fatuous and imaginative. He gets paid with public money but most of what he has to say about the motorcycle gang menace must remain secret “Due to the sensitive nature” of his training programs. Generally, “the exact locations” of his training programs can only “be revealed to those who register.” “Special security” is maintained. And his “training programs” are “only open to law enforcement officers, corrections officers, prosecutors, probation/parole officers and other criminal justice professionals. You must show proper agency credentials or identification to be allowed entrance into the training program.”
Cook also does business as the Heartland Law Enforcement Training Institute and that’s the patch he wore when he rolled into Rock Springs, a city of about 23,000 that is pretty unavoidable on an east-west ride because the city squats astride Interstate 80. The local police chief, a fellow named Mike Lowell, told the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner, that because “Motorcycle gangs, also referred to as motorcycle clubs, have driven through Rock Springs and Sweetwater County,” on the Interstate on their way to someplace else, they have “caught the attention of police.”
“Lowell said they (local police) have stopped motorcycle gangs inside the city limits including the Bandidos, Sons of Silence and Hells Angels.”
“No community in Wyoming is safe from an outlaw motorcycle gang because they are so mobile, Lowell said.”
Lowell asked Cook to help him with the problem that is mostly between Lowell’s ears because, “There is enough of a concern with these groups to me to hold this class. To us, motorcycle gangs are identified by criminal action. We refer to them as OMGs.” The chief also told the Rocket-Miner “he wants outlaw motorcycle gangs to know he is willing to spend money to better understand them and their actions.”
Cook called his Rock Springs performance the “Patrol Response to Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Training Conference.”
It covered: the “Origin and History of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs; Organizational Structure and Recruiting Process; Tattoo and Patch Identification; Intelligence Gathering; Study of the “Big 4” Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs; Weapons Identification; Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and the Drug Trade; Motorcycle Gang Related Violence; Combating Lawsuits and Legal Actions; Unique Investigative Techniques;” and “Safe Methods of Conducting Vehicle Stops on OMG Members.”
Trainees paid $200 each to attend this thing and afterward, according to the Rocket-Miner, Chief Lowell had learned “when OMGs come to Rock Springs, they should realize police are going to stop them. If everything is on the up and up with no warrants, possession of illegal drugs or any other criminal activity, it will just be a little bit of an inconvenience.”
He told the paper “OMG members also claim they are being misunderstood.”
“They are saying they are just working guys who drink pop and like to work on their motorcycles,” he said. “We refer to them as motorcycle gangs.”
In the future Rock Springs will always conduct traffic stops on motorcyclists with multiple officers because “It’s nice to be able to meet them with force.” Drug sniffing dogs will always be dispatched to those stops whether a reasonable, articulable suspicion exists to conduct a canine search or not. And the Chief “wants the community to be vigilant and call law enforcement if they spot a group of motorcycle riders who they suspect may be a part of a motorcycle gang.”
Incidentally, one can also get to Sturgis from the West Coast by way of Interstates 70 and 90.