It can be easy to paint police officers with a broad brush.
When your only encounters with police are either when you're in distress or find yourself on the wrong side of the law, it's no wonder that we tend to generalize.
In a new series, Pique will be profiling local officers that have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
In the first instalment, Pique caught up with 39-year-old Cpl. Nate Miller, a Whistler RCMP watch commander who will be cycling 800 kilometres next month through the Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast and Lower Mainland to raise money for cancer as part of the RCMP's annual Tour de Coast. He has so far raised just shy of $10,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Pique: You have a love for Whistler and are a part of the community here. Does that help you bridge the gap with the public?
Miller: Absolutely. This is the first time I've policed in a town that I actually live in, so that's huge. Usually you do your shifts, you go home and there's no real investment in the community itself. I'm invested in this community; I have a family here.
Usually there's no interaction with you and the public except for when there's a call for service. I think that's definitely different with policing in this community.
Pique: Are there barriers specific to Whistler that prevent officers from getting to know the community better?
Miller: I think one of the barriers is housing, because a lot of the young members that come here, their home base is in the Lower Mainland. They will live up here during their shifts and then will go back to their families on their days off.
That's one problem that we get. We do have a lot of fresh members out of depot, opposed to members choosing to come up here, because of the cost of living. The cost of living is expensive everywhere, but if you're already established with a family, it's hard to come up here.
Pique: Why did you decide to do the full 800-km Tour de Coast ride?
Miller: I love bikes, so any excuse to get on a bike. I guess my perspective on life has changed now that I have my own little guy at home (Miller's son turns two next month), so to actually be in a position to support those families going through cancer by doing some fundraising and riding a bike, I think that's pretty minor.
Pique: Do you feel that, by and large, the public in Whistler has an accurate perception of what the police do?
Miller: I don't really know how people perceive us. I grew up snowboarding, mountain biking and I did everything that you'd do in a small town growing up. Now I'm a police officer, and it's no different. We have fun on our days off and do what most people do here. Put on a uniform and we have our job: enforcing the law. It doesn't mean we don't have a sense of humour or don't know how to have fun.
Cpl. Miller and other RCMP members will be stopping in Whistler as part of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Coast on Sept. 22. Miller said police are looking for a restaurant sponsor to host a dinner for the officers on the night of the 22nd.
Donations to the Cops for Cancer Tour de Coast can be made at convio.cancer.ca.