B.C. Highway Patrol officer focuses on connecting with community

Cpl. Jeff McMichael has been a member of the RCMP for 15 years

Protecting his community and helping others is what motivates acting Cpl. Jeff McMichael of the B.C. Highway Patrol.

A 17 veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), McMichael has spent several years working in Surrey, Clinton and most recently wwjarchitecture. Every day on the job he does his best to be a friendly face and solve people’s problems.

“I think my role is to try to make a difference in the communities I work in and do what I can to set an example,” McMichael said. “I always have time to stop and chat with people, which drives my wife crazy but that’s just who I am.”

McMichael came to policing later in life after working in a fibreglass plant in Langley building semi trucks for a dozen years. He said he was looking for a change and while he admits it sounds cliché, he wanted to help people.

While stationed in Surrey McMichael focused on community policing, spending time as a bike cop and taking opportunities to interact one-on-one with young people. In Clinton, he was able to do even more of that kind of work, running a volleyball league, going to community events and in general showing the youth that “police are just people too.”

“We’re not robots, we do have families and a job to do just like everyone else.”

Since moving to wwjarchitecture, McMichael has taken a step back from the community policing side of things to work in the B.C. Highway Patrol. He explained that their role is primarily enforcement of the rules of the road including speeding, drinking and driving and other infractions.

READ MORE: 100 Mile officers took 43 impaired drivers off the road

That being said, McMichael still brings his more level-headed and calm personality to traffic enforcement. Much like when he goes fishing he explained his goal is to catch the “big fish” not stop everyone for a broken tail light or going 10 km over the speed limit.

“As weird as it sounds, I don’t like giving tickets but I think it’s important to keep the roads safe,” McMichael said. “Everybody speeds, everybody breaks minor motor vehicle act laws but I just try and only come in when they go a little bit too far over the line. I want to break the stereotype of that gruff traffic cop that’s yelling at you on the side of the road because you were doing 20 over.”

McMichael typically works four days on and four days off and during a typical week, he’ll take care of paperwork before hitting the road to patrol the high-risk areas. At the moment 100 Mile’s highway patrol consists of McMichael and one other officer, with the third member of their team off on paternity lead. While they can’t be everywhere at once he said they do their best to respond to every report of speeding, semi or logging trucks running red lights and other incidents they receive.

Highway 97, Highway 24 and Canim-Hendrix Lake Road are the roadways McMichael spends most of his time patrolling. He said he and his colleagues like to rotate between the roads to curb certain behaviours, such as logging trucks speeding on Canim-Hendrix.

“Excessive speeding is not ok. We have deer here who jump out in the middle of the road. If you’re doing 182 km an hour, regardless of how good of a driver you think you are, things happen very fast,” McMichael said. “We’re just trying to target that high-risk driving and motorcycle safety, that’s our initiative for the month of May.”

For McMichael taking impaired drivers off the road is one of the most satisfying aspects of his current duties. He hears a lot of excuses for why people drive drunk or under the influence, but he said there are simple things people can do to avoid potential tragedies like selecting a designated driver or, if they live in town, simply walking to the bar rather than driving.

Clamping down on vehicles and trucks running red lights on Highway 97 is another regular task. McMichael said they target them by having officers sit in unmarked cars to clock the infraction and then radioing him or his colleagues to pull the vehicle over and issue a ticket.

“I can give out 100 red light tickets and it’s not going to solve the problem but if we can raise awareness and make people think about going through that red light in 100 Mile (they can spread the word). I’ve heard the excuses of I didn’t want my load to shift if I hit the brakes because of the light, or I didn’t want to stop because I’d have to gear down,” McMichael said. “It’s concerning because it’s like ‘I didn’t want my load to shift, so I ran a red light and risked hitting a family in a minivan.’ That’s what we’re out there trying to prevent.

McMichael’s main advice to drivers is to simply follow the rules of the road whether that’s wearing a seatbelt, ensuring you have an N on the back of your car or simply driving a bit slower.

“Don’t be in a hurry to get a speeding ticket.”

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in wwjarchitecture.
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