Since the inception of the California Highway Patrol in 1929, its motto has been “Safety, Service, and Security.” And yet, most California citizens do not know exactly what this means.
Let’s start with the security element. The CHP has the responsibility for investigating all crimes that occur on state property, and protection of state buildings and assets like the capitol building and bridges like the Golden Gate and Vincent Thomas Bridge.
The CHP Judicial Protection Section protects the justices of the California Supreme Court and Appellate Court. The CHP works in tandem with the Secret Service to provide the highest level of security for the President of the United States and other heads of state when they visit California. CHP Officers travel with the governor as his protection unit.
The CHP Computer Crimes Investigation Unit and Counterterrorism and Threat Awareness Section work with many allied agencies to keep all citizens secure. This is the type of investigative work and security action the CHP does that is not usually visible to citizens.
The safety element is probably the one most of us are familiar with. Yes, when you get a ticket for speeding the officer is performing an act of safety. Excessive speed is one of the leading factors in traffic collisions. The CHP does not call these incidents accidents. It is the CHP’s belief that every traffic collision could have been avoided if safer measures were taken by drivers.
It is an act of safety when a stop is made on a drunken driver. Alcohol is another leading cause of crashes. Stopping drivers who are impaired or distracted for any reason is one of an officer’s priorities to keep all drivers safe. When a ticket is given for not wearing your seat belt, it is an act of safety.
When an officer stops to help a stranded motorist it is an act of safety. In fact, last year CHP officers made almost twice as many non-enforcement contacts as they did enforcement stops. Safety will always be a high priority with the men and women of the CHP.
All of the CHP’s service endeavors are community and safety related.
Here are a few examples. Last year, in Los Angeles County, the CHP conducted 93 “Age Well, Drive Smart” programs for older drivers. In the same year, they held 144 “Start Smart” classes for teenage drivers.
Also in the same time period, 21 Los Angeles County high schools held “Every Fifteen Minutes” simulations, a CHP and allied agency program that challenges young people to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions.
And at the youngest end of the age spectrum, the CHP regularly holds child safety seat events. These events invite new parents to have their safety seats inspected for proper installation, that they are the proper size for the child, and any unsafe wear the seat may have. In the last two years 57 of these events have been held in Los Angeles County. Parents do not have to wait for a child safety seat event before checking their child’s seats, they simply have to call a local CHP area office and make an appointment to come in.
Finally, during this holiday season, the CHiPs for Kids program provides thousands of toys and hundreds of bikes (including safe bike helmets) for local kids.
Community Engagement, Call (818)240-8200
The CHP already does a lot. But it wants to get better and more involved with all communities. To that end, CHP’s Southern Division which handles all of Los Angeles County, has a Community Engagement and Recruitment Team (CERT) in place.
The team is made up of ten officers and two sergeants. Two major goals of the team are to improve awareness of and access to community service programs provided by the CHP and recruit interested persons from the many diverse L.A. communities to become CHP explorers (a youth program) and officers.
CERT plans on doing this by actively engaging countywide community groups and faith based organizations, expanding access to CHP’s community service programs, being consistently involved with community outreach, actively recruiting under-represented groups to become explorers and officers, and effectively respond to public safety and local community traffic enforcement concerns.
Here’s where the CHP needs your help. The CHP wants more people involved with our programs and recruiting, but we can’t reach them all on our own. If you, or your organization, would like to learn more about what the CHP offers, please email 501CERT@chp.ca.gov or call Sergeant William Preciado at 323-644-9550.