The California Highway Patrol’s Southern Division Community Engagement and Recruitment Team (CERT) is a unique unit within the CHP comprised of 12 officers and two sergeants. The major goals of CERT are providing community access to departmental services, continuing to develop and maintain trust within our communities and recruiting from under-represented groups for positions within the Department from explorers to officers to public safety dispatchers and much more. While there are other CERT officers within the state, Southern Division (Los Angeles County) is by far the largest. The team actively engages countywide with community groups, faith based groups, elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges to encourage ongoing dialogue to strengthen relationships within the community. This article will highlight some of the many events CERT has recently been a part of over the past few months.
CERT participated in the 2016 Taste of Soul Family Festival. This highly attended event, with more than 350,000 people flowing through Crenshaw Blvd., allowed CERT and other CHP Southern Division officers to interact with community members and establish new relationships with community members. CERT displayed several enforcement and specialty vehicles including the enforcement SUV and Harley Davidson motorcycles. The Rapid Response Vehicle, designed as a mobile command post for coordination of emergency incidents, was also on display. The unit also provided traffic safety information and was able to answer questions related to law enforcement and community needs. Nearly 30 uniformed personnel participated in this event and were led by Division Chief Chris O’Quinn, Assistant Chief Omar Watson, Captain Mark Garrett and Captain Tommie Cocroft. The CHP executives represented the CHP on each stage addressing the community and showing support for the people in the Crenshaw district. The CHP presence and participation further exemplify the Department’s unwavering dedication to serving the public and forming vital collaborations with the community.
“Academy for the Day” is a program developed by CERT in collaboration with the Hawthorne High School, School of Criminal Justice. The idea of the program is to provide students with an interest in Law Enforcement a hands-on experience of a day in the life of an Officer. The Academy for the Day was modeled after the first day of the academy because it is a very impactful day in the career of many officers. The students lined up at 0600 hours in the morning just as they would on day one of the CHP Academy. The day of instruction started with physical training (affectionately known as PT) which included a floor workout in the gym (push-up, sit-up, nose in the rings) and continued outside for a short 1.5 mile run. After the run the students experienced a K9 demonstration, followed by self-defense techniques. Before lunch the students witnessed scenarios involving officers faced with a use of force decision. The purpose of this exercise was to display the speed of escalation of an incident, and how quickly danger can arise. After lunch, there was classroom instruction covering ethics, moral responsibility, first aid and criminal statutes. Parents were invited to attend the classroom portion of the day, so they too could share in the training, as well a show support for their children within the program. Upon completion of the program each student received a “I survived Academy for the Day” t-shirt, and a certificate. The Academy is planned to continue once per semester at Hawthorne High School as well as expanding to other local schools.
In July and September, CERT attended One Heart, One Nation, All Lives Matter events at Faith In Christ Ministries and Park Windsor Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Both events allowed our officers to interact with adults and children in the community. Food, fun, and meaningful conversations were shared in a positive environment. These events are truly rewarding and are creating multiple future opportunities to bring the community and law enforcement together.
CERT collaborated with the Walker Temple A.M.E. Church for their 5th Annual Women’s Conference. This year’s theme, “Warrior Women: Operating in the Prophetic,” was designed to transform the lives of hundreds of women of all cultures by offering workshops in, emotional stability, healthy relationships, and self-empowerment. The conference has had thousands of high school and college students in attendance over the course of the last four years along with some of the most influential, and empowering women in California. This event allowed the California Highway Patrol to provide education and support of women’s issues from different backgrounds along with providing those in attendance with information regarding positions with the CHP.
CERT also took part in the Hoops and Options College Fair held at First AME Church in Los Angeles. It was not only an opportunity to give teens a broader understanding of the California Highway Patrol, but to also to ask questions regarding safety and community policing.
On Thanksgiving Day the Fred Jordan Mission is always looking for assistance in preparing for their annual Thanksgiving Feast, feeding over 1,500 people who are homeless or in need. The Southern Division CERT happily gave a helping hand with the awesome volunteers from our Explorer Program. Our Explorers volunteered without hesitation and have come out to help over the last 4 years. The day started at approximately 4:00 a.m. and ended at 11:00 a.m. This year the Explorers pulled a double duty. Upon arriving on scene they helped a catering service distribute approximately 500 breakfast meals on the streets of Skid Row. After finishing up this heart felt calling, the Explorers helped get the Thanksgiving Feast ready with guidance from the Fred Jordan Mission staff. The Officers and Explorers were strictly volunteers who wanted to help others and sacrificed their morning to serve those in need. It definitely shows how much the CHP cares and how we are grooming our future leaders of America to be selfless, humble, and giving to the community they serve.
The CHP has a long and positive history with the Martin Luther King, Jr., Kingdom Day Parade. The 32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Kingdom Day Parade on January 16th, 2017, was the 27th year of CHP’s participation. Participants included CHP Deputy Commissioner, Warren Stanley, Southern Division Chief, Chris O’Quinn, Area Commanders, CHP Explorers, CHP Mounted Patrol Unit, CHP Motorcycle Officers, and our mascot “Chipper” along with the CERT unit and other uniformed personnel. CHP’s continued participation in this annual parade has enabled CHP to positively engage community members in a non-enforcement contact environment as well as honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Statewide, approximately 4,700 people tested for the position of Cadet, California Highway Patrol in 2016, with nearly 1,500 of the candidates being from the Los Angeles area. In keeping with CHP’s recruitment of the diverse communities that we serve, Southern Division CERT has continued with, and expanded departmental recruitment efforts. Within the last year, we have increased our reach to include a multitude of local organizations and schools.
West Coast Baptist College Black College Expo
Community Job Fair Los Angeles Convention Center
[Text Wrapping Break]During the testing process, applicants are required to meet the minimum physical standards: 1 ½ Mile Run – 13:35, 300 Meter Run – 70 seconds, Push-Ups – 24, Sit-Ups – 31. Additionally, applicants must obtain a competitively passing score on the written exam (POST PELLET-B), in order to proceed to the next stage of the testing process.
In preparation for these tests, recruiters host a mentoring program, aptly named Applicant Preparation Program (APP). At the APP sessions, applicants perform physical exercises and complete practice written tests. With hard work, dedication and consistency, successful applicants may be invited to attend the world renowned California Highway Patrol Academy. Upon graduation, recruiters often continue with mentoring efforts and the celebration of a job well done.
Applicant Preparation Program (APP)
If you or your organization would like to learn more about what the CHP offers for your community, please email 501CERT@chp.ca.gov or call Sergeant Heather Hoglund at (323) 644-5932 or (323) 644-9550.