Top cop also a chess whizz
Behind the badge, Plettenberg Bay’s police station commander is a man of many talents.
Not only has he been protecting and serving the community for the past three decades, but Colonel Nolan Michaels is also chess whizz, a decent golfer and an avid reader.
Michaels, who also played a key role in ensuring Plett becoming the top-performing police station in the Eden cluster over the past financial year, was born and raised in Knysna, but has worked across the country – and filled the shoes of commander at about 10 stations. For the past three years, he has been the head of the Plettenberg Bay station.
“As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to make a difference, to fight for justice,” Michaels says about his career choice.
Although he does not come from a family of police officers, but guided by this drive to fight against the atrocities faced by communities across South Africa, Michaels joined the police on May 14, 1987. For Michaels, this is a day that still stands out as one of the highlights of his career.
“I remember when I became an officer,” he recalls. “Our superiors spoke about the responsibility of our job. The gravity of what I was embarking on set in at that moment and it was such an honour to take up that responsibility. Chariots of Fire was playing during the ceremony. It is a moment that will stay with me the rest of my life.”
For this father of two, life has delivered many other highlights – “too many to mention” – including the birth of his children.
“I’ve also seen the best and the worst of society over the years.”
He adds that he copes with being exposed to the horrors that go hand-in-hand with police work, through “strong spiritual values”.
About low points in his career, Michaels says there are luckily very few. “I have been blessed with endless patience, so there is very little that gets to me.”
When he is not fighting crime he enjoys a game of chess – a skill that has come in handy in terms of police strategy.
Although modest, Michaels the chess player is clearly a force to be reckoned, as he has not only made it onto the Western Cape police chess team several times but also onto the national team.
“I’m not a great golf player, but when I have time I enjoy spending time on the golf course. I love being outdoors,” the 18-handicap golfer says.
Michaels also finds pleasure in reading, especially autobiographies. In his words, “I enjoy books that teach you something.” His favourite book is Olivia Forsyth’s A South African Spy Breaks Her Silence.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this saying rings true for the ace police officer, who says he cannot get enough of his wife’s cooking. “I also love seafood, and living on the Garden Route really helps in that regard.”
Michaels, who lives in Knysna, says his time in Plettenberg Bay has been a great journey so far. “Not only do I have a very special team of dedicated officers behind me, but we have an incredible community that contributes greatly to our police successes.”
He adds that Plettenberg Bay is unique in that there is a very strong relationship between various role players, from neighbourhood watch groups, the Plettenberg Bay Crime Prevention Association and security companies to the municipality and the community at large.
“This relationship has played a great role in reducing crime in the area and is a relationship we will continue to build on.”
Michaels says his ultimate goal in life is to lead by example. “When I’m not here anymore one day I want to leave behind a team of capable people who can continue the journey I’m on.”
Colonel Nolan Michaels has 30 years of police experience and has invested that knowledge in Plettenberg Bay, where he has been the station commander for the past three years.