It only took a decade for Megan Poulin to get a ride-along with the Saanich Police, and she didn’t see it coming.
Ten years ago, Poulin was a student at St. Joseph’s Elementary with a keen interest in law enforcement, but was well below the age limit for a ride-along. She also didn’t meet the eligibility criteria for ride-alongs, which are typically reserved for applicants and volunteers with the department.
However, opportunity presented itself in the form of a gift certificate at the school’s annual fundraiser.
“Back in 2006, St. Joseph’s had an auction,” said Acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie. “The chief at the time had said, ‘As one of the things that someone can bid on, we’ll put out this ride-along.’”
Poulin’s mom had gone on a ride-along before and knew how exciting they could be, so she bid on the certificate for her daughter. She won the certificate and held onto it for 10 years before giving it to Poulin on her 19th birthday.
“I had no idea she even had it,” said Poulin. “I didn’t even realize it was that old until I went to the police station and looked at it.”
“She was like, ‘Oh, I got it a few years ago,’” added Poulin with a laugh.
Poulin’s interest in police work had taken her just about everywhere except the passenger seat of a squad car. A few years ago, she went to Ottawa for a weeklong RCMP program by Encounters with Canada, the country’s largest youth forum.
She was still on the fence about pursuing law enforcement as a career, but she had heard all about her mom’s ride-along and was ecstatic to go on one of her own.
“When my mom went on it, she couldn’t say enough good things about it, she had a great time,” recalled Poulin.
On Jan. 21, Poulin rode shotgun from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., responding with an officer to calls from all over Saanich. While she didn’t attend any drug busts or shootings, she still found the ride-along to be an eye-opening experience.
“It was just in general with the way the cops interacted with people and some of their stories about past calls,” she said. “They get to know the people. Some people call in regularly and certain officers take it upon themselves to look after those people and make sure they get checked up on.”
The ride-along seems to have influenced Poulin’s decision to go into law enforcement. She’s now looking at taking some criminology courses in the fall at Camosun.
Maybe the next time she’s in a squad car, she’ll be behind the wheel.