After learning the importance of caring for people while growing up in Los Altos, Mike Taber hopes his new role as the Mountain View Police Department’s first community outreach officer will be his legacy when he retires.
“I’ve always really cared about people,” said Taber, the son of a nurse and a fireman. “Once this position got announced, I knew right away it was for me, and I immediately started … doing everything I could to learn about the position.”
Operating within the department’s Neighborhood and Event Services Unit, Taber is developing his new role from scratch. He said he knew the position would suit him perfectly because of his countless efforts to go above and beyond his job duties.
Taber has worked with the MVPD since 1996. He received the Lifesaver Award 10 years ago for rescuing an elderly man he met a day earlier. Taber said he returned to the man’s home to give him a walker he picked up at a garage sale and found him face down on the floor. The man had been lying there for nearly a day, according to Taber, who called emergency services.
“I kind of grew up in that atmosphere where we care for each other, so that carried on throughout my entire life and while I’m on patrol,” he said. “It’s my whole mindset – it’s ingrained in me – to seek people that need help and to offer them that help.”
He started his new job July 25.
“Mike has established himself as a caring officer who always went out of his way to try to understand the people he came in contact with,” MVPD Sgt. Wahed Magee said in a press release. “One of (his) greatest skills is that he has a keen ability to be able to talk to people and build trust with them.”
The position was created after city officials saw a need for assistance on the streets in dealing with homelessness and substance abuse, Taber said. He plans to find people who need help, especially those living in motorhomes and on the streets. In an effort to improve their lives, Taber aims to network with Community Services Agency to secure housing and mental health services for them.
“Their quality of life will go up when they start getting services and are able to be more independent,” said the 1988 graduate of Los Altos High School.
Taber added that he is thrilled that the new position will enable him to devote more time to a specific person or situation – without time constraints.
“When we’re on patrol, we’re kind of strapped for time,” he said. “In this new position … if I come across somebody who really needs some help, I (can) find out on a personal level what they really need rather than rush the service.”
Although helping others has been important to Taber since he was young, he didn’t set out to become a police officer. He started out as a radio DJ, then worked at a record company in Hollywood. It wasn’t until after working security at a club and an amusement park that Taber applied for the Butte Police Academy in Chico in 1994.
When not on duty, Taber and his wife enjoy training their two horses for horseback riding competitions. Drawn to the stable, Taber said he misses being a part of the MVPD’s mounted police unit, eliminated in 2006.
And while he no longer DJs at weddings or parties, Taber continues to perform the service for family and close friends. To learn his DJ name, Taber encourages local residents to get to know him while he’s out on his new job.