HOLLY HILL — Rosco, Phazer, Thorn, Top Hat and Yo-Yo are some of the guys you might see riding around town for Daytona Beach Bike Week.
The Enforcers Motorcycle Club members certainly aren’t first-timers but their boot print has grown in the last year since the club, with origins in South Florida, opened its Daytona Beach chapter clubhouse at 1008 Ridgewood Ave. in Holly Hill.
“Daytona, that’s the mecca,” Rick “Rosco” Sessa, the club’s national president and founder, said in an interview shortly after The News-Journal noticed an “Enforcer MC” sign on a building that used to house a mom-and-pop sandwich shop. “Where else, twice a year, do you have one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world? You got to respect that.”
Sessa, 53, held the rank of commander with the Riviera Beach Police Department and decided that once he retired he would meld what he described as the camaraderie and excitement of law enforcement with his lifelong love of motorcycles. While retired, he says he keeps plenty busy with the club and is planning a “venture” in Daytona Beach but declined to go into details at this time.
Sessa founded the Enforcers in 2000 in Riviera Beach and it has grown to 46 chapters with many in Florida and other states including Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio. While Sessa declined to reveal total membership numbers, he said each chapter has a minimum of five people.
“It’s doing great,” he said of club membership.
Sessa described the club as an “LEMC,” a law enforcement motorcycle club that also accepts military veterans and some people who may have neither of those backgrounds.
To become a member, you must have a cruiser style motorcycle with a motor that’s at least 750 cc, so the bike has enough power to keep up with the pack on the highway. First the club does a background check, then you hang around so everyone gets to know everyone else. Then there’s a membership fee and the legal stuff: signing that you understand the bylaws, a waiver of liability and a nondisclosure form in case you leave the club.
Sessa said that’s kind like a business having employees sign noncompete agreements. Then you become a probate and you are tested on the club’s history and laws. There is no hazing, he said.
“We don’t belittle anybody. It’s about respect on both sides,” Sessa said. “They need to do tasks, watching the bikes, cleaning bikes, cleaning the clubhouse, security at the clubhouse, whatever. Things that none of us wouldn’t do or haven’t done, they are expected to do.”
Woman are not members, but Enforcers’ wives and girlfriends are welcome at the club.
The average probationary period is six months for new members.
“When the chapter decides they are ready and they are going to be good for our brotherhood, they become a fully patched member,” he said.
The Enforcers are not a 1-percenter club, Sessa said. Infamous clubs like the Outlaws and Pagan’s identify as 1-percenters and some of their members have for decades been caught on the wrong side of the law.
But Sessa said he gets along with 1-percenters and other clubs. He said before he formed the Enforcers he met with other South Florida clubs, including 1-percenters, to let them know he was starting a group.
“We didn’t just go out there and do this and say hey ‘Here, we are,’” Sessa said. “We made sure that what we did and what we wore was not going to interfere or step on the toes of clubs that had been around longer than us,” he said.
He also hasn’t stepped on any toes at the Holly Hill Police Department. Police Chief Steve Aldrich said his officers have not had any problems or calls for service at the Enforcer’s clubhouse since they started hanging out there last year.
Aldrich rides a BMW 1200, which means his bike is big enough that he could try to join the Enforcers.
“I have no intention. I pretty much do my own riding,” Aldrich said.
The Enforcers, like many other clubs, have a paramilitary type structure, with members given ranks and roles. Enforcers wear the standard uniform of biker clubs, a leather vest, or “cut,” with patches on the front and back. The Enforcers wear an American flag and a silver patch with the letters LEMC. On the back of the vests are rocker-style patches with the club’s name. In the middle is their emblem: a hooded swordsman.
Inside the clubhouse the numbers 5665 adorn a wall. Those stand for the fifth and sixth letters of the alphabet “e” and “f” or “Enforcers Forever Forever Enforcers.” There are some chairs and a bar.
The Blue Knights are probably the best known law enforcement motorcycle club. The club accepts current and former law enforcement officers and has been around since 1974, according to its website.
But Sessa said he had friends who rode motorcycles and weren’t police.
“I didn’t want to limit us just to law enforcement,” Sessa said. “We kind of refer to ourselves as a law enforcement military club, public safety and just good American patriot citizens.”
Sometimes, though, club members have wound up on the wrong side of the law.
Robert “Snap” Litzenberger of Palm Coast was an Enforcer during Bike Week in 2011 when he and some other members got into a confrontation with a couple of spring breakers outside the Pirate’s Cove Hotel in Daytona Beach Shores.
Litzenberger forced a spring breaker to the ground and kicked him in the head. The spring breaker wasn’t the only one who caught the boot. A video caught it as well. By the time Litzenberger was sentenced to three years in prison in 2014 he was no longer a member of the Enforcers, although club members testified on his behalf at the trial.
Sessa blamed the spring breakers for starting the trouble but said Litzenberger went too far. Sessa, who testified at the trial, said the breakers were not staying at the hotel but kept bothering the bikers. Sessa had walked across the street to a bar before the violence.
“Our individual went a little beyond in the heat of the moment and I don’t condone that. We don’t condone it,” Sessa said in the recent interview. “But again it was just a real unfortunate situation. They had no business on the property.”
He said he is frustrated by the bad publicity the incident has brought the nearly 20-year-old club.
Sessa, who campaigned unsuccessfully for sheriff of Palm Beach County in 2016, has had a few scrapes with the law himself. One was a bar brawl while he was still a cop in 2005, according to the Palm Beach Post. But he disputes that and says that he and a friend were jumped by a larger group as they left the bar and he suffered a broken jaw and other injuries. He was not charged in the incident. And he had a gun that he never pulled out but he caught flak for having it in the bar.
Another scrape got him arrested on multiple charges after a fight in 2017, the Palm Beach Post reported. Sessa said then that he and the accuser, a felon, exchanged words and there was some contact but that was all. Sessa pleaded “guilty in best interest” to misdemeanor battery, according to court records.
He said he decided to plead to make the case go away and be free from the restrictions on travel. He said the case against him was politically motivated.
Sessa, who had two radio programs for a while, one about police work and the other about motorcycles, said the club looks for members who have a passion for motorcycles. In a member’s life, motorcycles come third, behind their jobs and their families.
Among those making the cut are Harry “Yo-Yo” Freeland, a 59-year-old Daytona Beach resident and Army veteran who serves as the chapter’s treasurer. Freeland is called Yo-Yo because when he first started riding in a pack he would fall back and then catch up.
“I joined the Enforcers because I was in the military and I like the camaraderie of all of us getting together and a lot of us are veterans or cops,” Freeland said. “We kind of feel like we both do the same kind of job. We help protect the citizens of this great country from the bad guys. It lets us blow off steam together in a safe atmosphere for all of us.”
Another local member is John “Thorn” Werrline, 35, of Daytona Beach, a U.S. Navy veteran who serves as the sergeant at arms of the Daytona Beach chapter.
Werrline, who works in the air-conditioning and heating industry, said he was looking for the camaraderie after leaving the military and he found it in the club.
“I proved my being worthy of wearing this patch that we hold so dearly and to our hearts,” Werrline said. “And I wouldn’t trade this for the world. I really wouldn’t. My family and my job come before the club but the club is also my family.”