Sergeant Jarrod Langan works as a Highway Patrol Supervisor here on the Coffs Coast, so road safety is extremely close to his heart. We spoke to him about what a day on the job is like and what we can do to keep our roads safe for all of us.
Hi Jarrod. Tell us a little about your background here on the Coffs Coast.
Well, I moved to Coffs Harbour with my family when I was 16 after finishing Year 10 at high school. I got a job pretty soon after as an apprentice mechanic and did most of my time at the old Autocare in High Street, as it was back then. We were the NRMA road service centre, so I worked all hours performing that role. Once qualified, I did a year or two more and then worked other jobs, truck driving and the like, before my parents and I started “Langans Smash Repairs” in June St. We had this business for a couple of years, before we sold it and I joined the Police Force.
When and where did you first join the Police Force? What prompted you to join initially?
I joined the Police Force in 1996. I went to Goulburn for six months then posted to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney for 12 months. From there, I went to Walgett for three years. After that it’s been a bit all over the place: Sawtell, Glenreagh, Scone, Muswellbrook, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Nambucca Heads and now back to Coffs Harbour as one of the Highway Patrol Supervisors.
My time in the smash repair industry meant that I had attended a number of accidents and worked with the local police pretty closely. I found them all to be really good people doing a job that came with a great responsibility, and that they were well respected in the town. I suppose these two factors were my driving force to join.
What does “a day in the life” look like for yourself?
As one of the Highway Patrol Supervisors, road safety and traffic management are my core business. In Coffs Harbour we have 12 Constables and two Sergeants. We also have a fleet of five cars, 1 RBT bus and a motorcycle. So, there is the management of these resources, working closely with Roads & Maritime Services (RMS), local Councils and other organisations to reduce road trauma. There is a lot of intelligence gathering, rostering and meetings. After all that is done, I do try to get out in the car as often as I can.
How do you cope with the uncertainty of what your day might throw at you?
For me, the uncertainty of what we do is probably the most challenging part of being a Police Officer. In my role as a supervisor, you need to have a broad knowledge and be able to make decisions quickly at times. The decisions may be as simple as how to manage traffic around a minor motor vehicle collision, or it could be decisions that can literally mean the difference between life or death.
I don’t think any Police Officer would cope if it wasn’t for a strong bond that you have with your workmates and family. I am very lucky to have a very supportive family and some of the best mates a man could ask for. Not to mention my wife, Angela, who puts up with my good and bad times.
What are some of the hardest challenges about your role, and how do you overcome them?
In my job you get to see the very best in people and unfortunately the very worst. As a Police Officer you will see and deal with things that no person should have to face.
Fatal and serious accidents are always hard. Knocking on that door to tell someone that their son, daughter, mother or father have been killed never gets easy. It’s very emotional but you have to hold it together, because it’s your job. Loved ones need support, compassion and information. Generally you are the one that has to be able to do that. Then on the other side is the welfare of your staff. They too will need support, because it can be just as distressing for them. Helping officers maintain their mental health through internal and external support mechanisms is always challenging, so having that “looking out for your mates” bond is very important after stressful incidents.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Knowing that what I do for a job hopefully makes a difference to people’s lives. Working hard to make the roads as safe as we can and dealing appropriately with those who put others at risk.
Being in your field of work, road safety is a big issue for you. What advice would you pass on to our readers about being safer on our roads?
Driving should be one of the safest daily tasks we do. But when you drink and drive, use your mobile phone, exceed the speed limit or you’re not concentrating on your driving, all of a sudden, the task of driving not only puts you, but also others, at risk of injury or death.
What’s one of the most common offences that could easily be avoided?
Drink driving and using a mobile phone whilst driving. There are plenty more, but these two offences are intentional as a result of a bad decision and can be avoided.