California Highway Patrol Celebrates 96 New OfficersJan 09, 2024 04:44PM ● By Dixon Editor Debra Dingman
The newest graduating class of the California Highway Patrol at the Sacramento ceremony. CHP Courtesy Photo
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – Many people spend years begrudging the California Highway Patrol because they were pulled over by a CHP Officer for some reason they did not feel was warranted. But after attending one of the graduations at the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento, one might easily hold feelings of respect and honor instead.
Every facet of the program was succinctly orchestrated from being directed where to park to lining up to enter the event. Guests were greeted professionally with a genuine smile by blue-shirted cadets. Hundreds of family members waited in anticipation.
Upon entering the huge gymnasium with rows and rows of seats, one saw an entire wall of 4 x 8-feet photos of pictures—each portraying a different division of the service including SWAT Team, Mounted Horse Patrol, Academy Instruction, Road Patrol, Air Operations, Motor Officer, Motorcycle and Bicycle Patrols. What they didn’t show was task force members, Headquarters and Division Personnel uniformed and Nonuniformed, Dispatchers, Auto Theft Task Forces, Commercial Enforcement Personnel, K-9s and more.
The large photos of various roles of CHP officers were displayed from chin-lift bars in the gymnasium. Cadets, on their way to meals, are required to do chin ups before and after eating. Photo by Debra Dingman
“There have been thousands of officers in this place,” said Jim Ward, a retired CHP Officer who lives in Dixon. “But, it is far from routine. This is extraordinary. You are seeing less than 3-percent of those who actually apply.” Ward served for 16 years on the Santa Ana freeway before moving to northern California duties.
Soon after the families and friends were seated, nearly 100 men and women marched into the California Highway Patrol Academy graduation ceremony with eyes straight ahead and showing serious faces wearing the traditional CHP uniform symbolizing authority and professionalism: the camel-colored pants, olive green jacket, and the cream-colored Trooper hat.
Filing into their graduation ceremony, new CHP Officers were captured in photos by hundreds of proud families. Photo by Debra Dingman
Commissioner Sean Duryee opened the ceremony and spoke about CHP training which is revered worldwide and consists of a regulated system of academics, exercise, diet, and self-discipline. Those honored had just completed the 6-month live-in Academy where their commitment meant missed birthdays, anniversaries, births of children, and holidays.
Proud parents took pictures of their graduates after the ceremony. Each graduate is an official CHP Officer who will serve to keep California drivers safe. Photo by Debra Dingman
He told how they would receive their badge number and badge stating they would stay with them for life and talked about what each point of the star represents: character, integrity, judgment, loyalty, courtesy, honor, and knowledge.
“You’ve earned the right to wear it,” he said. “That badge belongs to the people behind you. That badge represents the trust they have in you.” He also spoke to the graduates about their futures. “The tragedies of others will become your daily routine. You will show empathy, take time to listen, give a shoulder to cry on, and show compassion.
Don’t ever become cocky or arrogant. The moment you stop learning and growing, you start limiting your future.”
Keynote speaker Barbara Rooney, California Office of Traffic Safety Director shared the wide variety of backgrounds that the graduates came from. There were a couple musicians, EMTs, and firefighters.
“Almost all branches of the military are represented here and 1st to 3rd and even 4th generations of officers in the family. There was a preschool teacher, marathon runner, private pilot, computer engineer, and even a juggler,” she said. “Ten have received the Governor’s Medal of Honor.”
She reminded them they were all joining a 100-year-old agency created in 1929 to provide uniform traffic law enforcement throughout California, assuring the safe, convenient and efficient transportation of people and goods on its highway system.
Each CHP graduating class is immortalized on the walls of the Academy making an impressive display throughout the entire facility. Photo by Debra Dingman
“Now, there are 7,000 uniform personnel in our state with 40 million people,” she said congratulating them.
The governor added his remarks through a televised message.
“I’m adding my voice to the chorus who honors you,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We have the 5th largest law enforcement agency in the country and you have earned our respect and trust. We extend our gratitude, thanks, and welcome.”
A video presentation of the extensive training followed and the audience saw situational experiences where cadets were drilled on how to fight criminals and save lives.
A graduate is being officially pinned by a family member. CHP Courtesy Photo
Special recognitions were given for class officers, marksmanship, outstanding athlete, and most inspirational cadet. Afterwards, they lined in front of the buildings for the official ‘badge pinning’ while taking photos with proud spouses and family members. They will earn a generous base salary of $109,248 during their first year plus full health and dental benefits for themselves and their families.
The ceremony is one of three per year and was closed with the entire graduating class reciting the Code of Honor with raised right hands swearing that they “would lay down their life rather than swerve from the line of duty.”
The CHP has just released to the public an inside look at its live-in training facility with this month’s programming of the new reality series, Cadets. Premiering Jan. 17 on the CHP’s YouTube page, the nine-part docuseries focuses on a cadet class navigating the six-month journey through the CHP Academy on the way to becoming officers.
The release of Cadets is part of the CHP’s ongoing, multi-year recruitment campaign to recruit and hire 1,000 officers. A trailer for the series, produced entirely by CHP staff, is available online.
“Cadets is not just a series; it’s a testament to the CHP’s commitment to excellence, diversity, and the relentless pursuit of transforming individuals from all walks of life into dedicated officers ready to serve the community,” said the Commissioner Duryee. “We are excited to offer a start-to-finish look inside our Academy as future law enforcement officers are brought to life.”
Viewers will “ride along” with nine cadets as they overcome physical and mental adversity throughout the journey to earning their badge and becoming a CHP officer. The audience will also hear firsthand from the cadets as they speak candidly about their experience.
“By sharing their experiences, in their own words, we hope to inspire more service-minded individuals to follow in their footsteps and join us for a rewarding career in law enforcement,” added Commissioner Duryee.