Police chief not afraid to tackle street duties

Connecting with officers in the field beneficial for department, says Jamie Graham

Jamie Graham

Jamie Graham

After more than 40 years in policing, Victoria police Chief Const. Jamie Graham continues to wield his ticket book and read people their rights.

Graham, travelling in his unmarked black Dodge Charger, shocked a Porsche driver by pulling him over for going 160 km/h on Patricia Bay Highway on Feb. 1.

About six months ago, he stopped a motorcyclist going about 120 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on the same highway.

Graham calls it “helping out now and then.”

In fact, between his administrative duties and his many meetings, the chief issues an average of five to 10 tickets a month, mostly for traffic violations. He considers that “fairly rare” compared to his uniformed members.

Those looking to irk the chief need only cycle without a helmet or use their cellphone while driving.

“I’ll be stopped right next to them in traffic  and I’m watching them just yakking away on the phone, and I just stare at them and they eventually kind of glance over at me and the phone slowly slides down away from their ear to their lap,” he said.

“I’ll point them over to the curb and then I write them a ticket.”

Graham says he’s not special among chiefs of police in that regard.

“You can talk to my good friend (Vancouver police Chief Const.) Jim Chu or (Chief Const.) Dave Jones from New Westminster,” Graham said. “You’ll find most police chiefs nowadays won’t let things go.”

But there are potential implications when a chief gets involved in front-line policing.

Files are time intensive and appearances in court can take chiefs away from running their police departments.

And though Graham, who is now in his 60s, has worked everything from homicides to counter-terrorism, today he is mindful that some police duties require specialized training and tactical expertise.

“You have to pick carefully those interventions that you think are important or perhaps the public is at risk,” he said.

Three weeks ago Graham arrested a man outside Victoria City Hall for cursing and yelling at passersby, including the chief. Two of Graham’s uniformed officers took the man away.

When the chief’s call sign is heard over emergency radio lines, other officers take note.

“When they hear on the radio where I’ve got someone stopped, it tends to draw a crowd because some of them think that’s funny, and others want to see if I’ve still got what it takes or if I know how to write a ticket.”

For Graham it’s a chance to connect with his officers in their own working environment, and implement their suggestions to benefit the department.

“I have to be down on the shop floor to find out a lot of the issues that are going on,” he said.