THE western region has a new highway patrol boss.
Incoming Western Region Traffic Tactician Inspector Peter McMenamin takes over from Chief Inspector Jeff Boon, who is now based in the Mudgee Local Area Command.
Like his predecessor, Inspector McMenamin will be based in Dubbo but is expected to clock up many kilometres as he oversees an area from Lithgow in the east to Broken Hill in the west.
Inspector McMenamin became a police officer in 1988 and previously worked in Mount Druitt, Bathurst and Tamworth.
"I've been in highway patrol for most of that time, since 1995," he said.
Inspector McMenamin said he always knew he wanted to be a highway patrol cop, and many years later he still loved his job.
"It's a role where we really can have so much impact when it comes to saving people's lives," he said.
Inspector McMenamin said in his experience, it was unfortunate many people took the privilege of driving for granted and they needed to think more about their behaviour on the roads.
"Even very small actions, whether they be deliberate or through inattention, can have huge impacts when you're driving with others on the road," he said.
"In the event of a serious injury or fatality, lives change in a split second. The ramifications are so much wider than those immediately involved, with families, communities, medical personnel and emergency services all affected in the aftermath of a crash.
"It's not just speeding that is a problem across the state - driver behaviour in general that also needs to change.
"It's a role where we really can have so much impact when it comes to saving people's lives,"
"It might be that someone decides they can drive along Newell Highway all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane and because they try to do it all at once they fall asleep halfway into their trip. It's also about the person who's running late for work so they decide to speed through a school zone or pedestrian crossing.
"All of those actions can have very serious consequences."
Many technological advances had taken place in highway patrol policing, Inspector McMenamin said, and automatic number plate recognition had been particularly useful.
"The system alerts us straight away if someone is driving an unregistered vehicle, and the registered owner's licence status whether it be current, suspended, cancelled or disqualified," he said.
"Often if they are driving without a licence it's the case there are other things that need to be followed up on."
Inspector McMenamin said members of the community who labelled highway patrol officers "revenue raisers" did not understand their role.
"We're here to enforce all aspects of traffic legislation so people get to their destinations safely," he said.
Inspector McMenamin said he and his family enjoyed the lifestyle regional centres offered.
"Apart from the scenery being nicer, I love the interaction with the community you can have with policing in areas like this," he said.
Outside of work, Inspector McMenamin said he enjoyed camping, four-wheel-driving and spending time with his family.