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Jim Poole: City loses one of its finest

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Winnipeg Police Insp, Jim Poole enforces cell phone usage in cars on October 7, 2013.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Police Insp, Jim Poole enforces cell phone usage in cars on October 7, 2013.

I was riding my bike over the Redwood Bridge one evening last summer, heading towards Main Street, when I bumped in to Jim.

In a parking lot just coming off the bridge were a bunch of police cars and uniform cops standing around. I thought I'd bumped into a major scene.

In the middle of them was a tall officer in a white shirt and protective vest, Insp. Jim Poole. He had a big grin. His trademark grin.

He spotted me and we shook hands. We'd known each other a while.

Me being me, I asked him what the heck was going on. All these cars, maybe four marked cars and a couple of plain, there must be something up, right?

Jim explained they were doing traffic enforcement. Or rather, he was teaching traffic enforcement.

The idea is you do high visibility enforcement on a stretch of road you're guaranteed to catch people doing dumb things. And bad things.

Bad guys drive, too, Jim said, and if you pick a pinch spot they can't avoid you, you got ‘em.

Suspended drivers, impaired drivers, guys with outstanding warrants, people not wearing a seatbelt, some knucklehead with a bag of dope beside him. Drivers on their cellphones.

That's the beauty of traffic enforcement, Jim said. It ain't sexy, but it can be productive if you put some effort into it. And the bonus is a lot of law-abiding citizens see police doing their jobs, making streets safer, and picking off the odd bad guy.

I asked Jim why he was out there. Why he was pulling OT instead of at home with his feet up. He flashed his trademark grin again.

Because he likes it, he said.

Because he wants to show the younger officers that he can still work the street.

Because if he wants them to do more traffic enforcement, he should, too.

About then one of those knuckleheads came off the bridge too fast and swerved to miss one of the cruiser cars. His rear windshield was missing and the rest of the car looked like it needed a date with a Springfield Road auto crusher.

The guy, his head shaved, looked like he had filled his pants there were so many cops looking at him. He continued weaving towards Main Street.

A couple of younger cops looked at Jim to see if they should go after him.

Jim nodded, go, and they turned on the roof lights and pulled him over a few seconds later.

Jim watched, grinned again, and shook his head slightly at the wonder of it all.

Jim Poole died March 7. He would've been just 53 in August. 

Thanks, Jim. It was a pleasure and an honour. 

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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