Behind the Wheel

Behind the Wheel

Q&A with Chief John Batiste

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How and why did you get into law enforcement?

Law enforcement is part of my family history. One of my uncles was a police officer and another was a reserve officer in Hammond, Louisiana, the town where I grew up. I played basketball at Washington State University and a couple years later, a teammate recruited me into law enforcement here at the Washington State Patrol and I was immediately sold on it since it’s part of my family’s legacy and I knew they’d be proud of me.

What has your career journey been like?

I’ve been blessed to have great mentorship along the way. And while I’ve been in the right place at the right time, I also studied and worked extremely hard to get myself promoted. And today, I’ve held every rank in the agency.

What traffic safety initiatives have you worked on?

There have been many over the years. I’ve focused on removing intoxicated drivers from roadways, so DUI initiatives. I’ve also worked on seatbelt initiatives and child restraint initiatives to make sure parents can keep their children safe. When it comes to helping people stay safe on the roadway, I’ve likely been a part of it.

How did it feel to be honored with the AAMVA Lifetime Achievement Award?

I was not expecting it at all. But when I look back at my life’s work, it’s truly an honor to be recognized. It’s a real honor to have people look at me in that light. You always hope you’re making a difference, but this verifies that I have and that’s very rewarding.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Well, I don’t have much free time, but I like to spend it with my family. My wife and I have a granddaughter who’s 8 years old, and we like to steal her from her parents and take her on trips. We tell our daughter that she can’t come, this is an “us” trip. I want to expose my granddaughter to all the things I didn’t get to see growing up and give her a true cultural education.

Main image: Chief Batiste and his wife recently took their granddaughter Reeve to Hawaii. 

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