Rockford trooper’s work collected in memories
Your family photo album likely contains happy pictures of a youngster eating spaghetti for the first time, the school field day, a series of birthdays. For Rockford Michgian State Police Trooper Carol Meyer, her family is a different type and her pictures aren’t of children going to their first day of school.
Meyer said law enforcement is a career like no other, and in 22 years at her job, she has books of experience and stories to tell. Meyer has been collecting pictures of her law enforcement “family” for years, and compiles an ongoing series of photo albums to commemorate her work and those of her colleagues on the force.
“I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she stated, showing off her books.
Meyer allowed the Squire an “insider’s look” at her law enforcement life. Meyer said the Michigan State Police allows officers to do different jobs throughout the years. She’s has been on the drug team, leaning out of open helicopter doors to search for hidden patches of marijuana in crop fields in Operation Hemp. She has trained on how to legally ram a car to disable it during a high-speed chase, and has a close friend who is a D/Sgt. that supervises the Kent Metro Cold Case Team.
“It is very much a family,” she said of the profession. “We mostlydon’t spend time with friends who aren’t officers, we spend time with other troopers and their wives and families.”
Meyer is still in a minority group as a female in a male-dominated profession. “They treat us well. Whatever the guys have to do, we have to do, too. We wouldn’t want it any other way,” Meyer said. She believes law enforcement is a fine career for a woman as well as a man, and here in Rockford she is one of four female troopers. Her friend who supervises the cold case team is also a female officer.
Currently, Meyer is a court officer. “When they [other troopers] arrest someone, I take if from there,” she said. “I get the subpoenas, see the judges, and take care of the warrants. Once the court stuff is done, I get to play.” By “play,” she means take her vehicle out on the road and patrol.
Meyer, like current Post Commander F/Lt. Chris McIntire, spent time on the Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) team for the State Police. The CMET operates drug-related crime-stopping, such as the Operation Hemp efforts. At one time, Meyer was a sergeant in the Newaygo Michgian State Police post. There her duties were more administrative. It would be a good job for many—answering the phone, supervising the troopers, and entering reports. For someone who likes to be out and moving, it wasn’t her favorite job of her career. “I requested a demotion after six months. I didn’t like sitting at a desk all day. I didn’t like that I had no time to be out on the streets,” she said.
There are three local law enforcement forces that work in the Rockford area. In addition to the Michigan State Police, which has had a post here since 1932,
we also have the local City of Rockford police officers and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Meyer
said all three are different, with different duties to some extent. The Michigan State Police is mostly highway patrol and often works with the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Meyer said her job is usually not boring. Training is ongoing. She said she, along with other troopers, used the empty home on Main Street in Rockford for training before it was demolished. “We loved that. We had our run of the house for three or four months and were able to do a lot of training there,” Meyer said.
She said other law enforcement, as well as fire departments, made great use of the property and all are grateful to the City of Rockford for offering use of the building. “It was good training for everyone. We used it, the City fire and police used it, SWAT used it, and so did county. Everyone had a really good time with the training.”
Each year troopers are required to do shooting training three times, first aid, hazardous material, defensive tactics and small squad tactics annually, as well as other training, such as crowd control techniques. Training uses different techniques that officers may encounter. “In shooting, they may have us shoot at night or through cars. There are a ton of different scenarios they take us through,” said Meyer.
Troopers take advantage of opportunities to have fun, as well. At the Rockford State Police Post, there was a mustache contest one year that kept things lively. “We had different categories, such as most absorbent, most pitiful, most Tom Selleck look-alike,” she said. They also have events such as teachers versus cops in donkey basketball and membership in clubs, such as the Warthog motorcycle club. Membership requires an American-made motorcycle, preferably a Harley, and you must be an officer or firefighter. The Warthogs are a combination of police officers and firefighters who sponsor several charity rides.
Meyer said she also loves her MSP Chicks club, herself and four other Michigan State Police troopers who celebrate each other’s birthdays and take Chick Trips away from their husbands and kids to destinations such as the Grand Cayman, Las Vegas, the Florida Keys and Mackinac Island. The Chicks include the Post Commander of the Reed City Post and three detective sergeants, members of the Kent Metro Cold Case team, the Rockford Post, the Ionia Post and a retired Lakeview Post sergeant.
“I don’t think this job is stressful at all,” Meyer said. “It’s stressful at first, but you get used to it.” She said cops even get used to accidents, although never those involving children. “We are almost all parents ourselves. When kids are involved, you don’t get used to that.”
For anyone who may be interested in a career in law enforcement, particularly with the Michigan State Police, Meyer offered advice. “It’s useful to go in with some other training, like an accounting degree, a second language or any degree in finances or the sciences. You may get tired of being out on the road, and there are so many other jobs you can do within the state police,” she said. Other fields of law enforcement require a degree in criminal justice, but Meyer said the academy for the state police is a rigorous training process that prepares new recruits for their career.
Looking over her series of scrapbooks with photos of colleagues still working and some gone, Meyer feels very satisfied with her choice of job and happy to have the memories. “There are 22 years of memories in these books,” she stated. “It’s not a job for everyone, you have to be a real people-person and know how to treat people. When you are on the road, you are pretty much your own boss. After 22 years, I’m still happy to go to work every day.”