TOWN OF WALLKILL — The new state police boss for Troop F is a familiar face in the Hudson Valley.
Major James Michael started his career with the New York State Police 24 years ago as a trooper in Ellenville, and as his career has advanced, he kept returning to the region. He and his wife are raising their two sons here, in their home near New Paltz.
So this new job as major?
“It’s me coming back home,” Michael says.
Troop F, headquartered in the Town of Wallkill, covers Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Greene and Rockland counties.
“We play a different role depending on where we are,” Michael said. In some areas, state police act as the main law enforcement agency. In others, they provide support to local or county police.
Public safety makes up a large part of what state police do in New York, he said, but they also provide education, working with schools, local officials and the public, whether it’s teaching community members about opioids or teaching people how to install child safety seats in their cars.
“We try to hold ourselves professionally and personally to a high standard,” Michael said. “Many of us are members of the community. It’s very important to us to uphold that standard on- and off-duty.”
Michael has served in a variety of jobs at state police. He’s been a road trooper and a sergeant in Ulster County; a lieutenant in the Bureau of Criminal Investigations at state police headquarters in Albany as a field commander; he’s been an internal-affairs lieutenant; a captain overseeing uniformed troopers across the Hudson River in Troop K; and a major overseeing the Division of Traffic Services.
Under Michael, Troop F will, of course, keep working with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council on impaired driving education and enforcement.
“Impaired driving is continually a large factor in fatal crashes and injury crashes,” Michael said.
And now, Michael said, when troopers spot an impaired driver, they’re much more conscious of intoxicants beyond alcohol, especially with an increase in the number of impaired drivers during daylight.
“That’s something the police have changed their awareness of in an effort to keep the community safe,” he said.
As for the demands of criminal-justice reform, which will require police to turn over more case information on much tighter deadlines, Michael said they’ll adjust, and do what’s required.
“We change with the times. We’re working as an entire agency,” Michael said. “We’re providing more information. But it doesn’t change what we do for the public.”