John Water Pretti is currently a Tallahassee, Florida, Police Officer, who traveled thousands of miles to fulfill his dream of a career in law enforcement and riding motorcycles. John was born in Fulda, West Germany, to a military career officer and a German mother serving with a unit patrolling the then East-West German border. His parents are now also living in Tallahassee being married for 55 years and retired.
John’s first language was German and grew up within sight of the German autobahn. John loved anything that had wheels and his first two wheeled motorized bike was a Pugh moped. He learned his basic riding skills on German roads and graduated to a mokick in relatively short period of time. Both of these bikes were kick start and easy to flood the carburetor making it difficult, at times, to start. His mother still talks about the many times seeing his helmet being thrown across the lawn in frustration in those early morning attempts. John’s last bike in Germany was a Yamaha dirt bike that he rode to work summer and winter. John and his dad loved watching CHiPs together on TV and would always say that’s what he wanted to do. He loved to ride.
His parents befriended a German Police Officer who was also a local City of Fulda motorcycle officer. The bike of choice for German police is the BMW. John told his father that some day he would ride a police motorcycle and hoped it would be a BMW. Remember that the bike of choice for US police is the Harley. His dad never thought for a minute this would ever happen.
John left Germany for college in the US, but returned to finish in Germany since his dad was again stationed back to Germany only this time as a college law enforcement instructor for Central Texas College-Overseas. John was hired as the Post commander’s driver. This was during a period of time when threats were being made against ranking military by what was known as the Baader-Meinhof Red Army Faction gang. John was required to attend the Anti-Terrorist Driving School conducted by Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart. This was like giving candy to a baby since John loved driving on the autobahn where speed limits were some times just an option. He naturally excelled at the school and upon his return was showing off his skills on the local base aircraft landing strip.
John received his associates degree from CTC-O and went to college in the US to complete his undergraduate and ended up at Florida State when he took the opportunity to apply to become a Tallahassee Police Officer. He was accepted and received his badge as a patrol officer in 1988. It was not long before he was accepted into the motor division as a motorcycle officer. He was first trained on a 1989 Kawasaki KZ1000 and entered in his first police rodeo challenge. Of course, his first duty police bike was a Harley. He rode police Harleys for five years. John was able to convince the department that the German made police BMW motorcycle was a better police bike. His determination of this idea was easily presented after he won the department’s first BMW in a national police motorcycle challenge contest sponsored by BMW. It took a while for it to be officially accepted due to unbudgeted maintenance requirements, but the then local BMW dealer made it possible. Soon after, the department replaced all the Harley’s with BMW’s to include several at FSU and FAMU Campus Police. John continued to take high honors riding the BMW’s for the next ten years in police riding competitions. He also became an authority on police use of the motorcycle in escorts and general patrol tactics.
John currently is working regular patrol in a blue and white cruiser due to the department’s policy of job rotation and John’s acceptance of a more flexible schedule permitting more family time. John’s family now includes twin daughters, Emma and Maddie. John’s wife, Melanie, is also a Tallahassee Police Officer and a qualified motorcycle safety instructor. John spends almost all of his spare time, after family, teaching motorcycle safety classes. He continues to ride in the police challenge contests and currently getting ready for the one in May. He did not place in last year’s event, riding a donated brand new Harley. He no longer represents the department, but picks up sponsorship either from other departments, BMW or Harley-Davidson. John does not care who he rides for as long as he rides. John recently spend the day at Conquitt, Georgia, teaching civilian riders on their Harleys the tricks in competing in challenge and rodeo contests. During the month of February 2012, he completed a two week instructor course at the Academy teaching police riding and tactics to some 30 Florida motorcycle officers in attendance. See slide show of this action.
Due to his overall expertise and skill in riding a motorcycle, he is also a traffic crash reconstruction specialist especially those cases involving motorcycles. John has qualified as an expert witness in court testimony for both the defendant and the prosecution.
In 2007, John completed another dream of his and that was to ride his bike from Florida to Alaska. He completed the 12,060 mile trip in 20 days on his personal BMW and he still proudly exclaims that he never had to change a tire. John was born to ride and will be adding more interesting motorcycle adventures to his resume’ as long as he can, but now putting family first is more important to him. He bought a RV camper. Yes, it has a motorcycle haul’in trailer to go with it. You know you are a motorman when you ride from the church following you wedding on a motorcycle with your bride. This is the epitome of “Born to Ride”.
John is the son of this examiner.