Recently I attended a seminar sponsored by the California Highway Patrol regarding public service and trust. The training and discussion reflected on the core values of the CHP.
I was captivated by the wise words of retired CHP Capt. Gordon Graham. His comments regarding the nobility of the law enforcement profession and the pride one has in wearing the uniform while serving the public reminded me why I joined the CHP.
Through his message, Mr. Graham reminded all of us the public deserves our very best and therefore we owe it to the public to provide them our very best each and every day!
The CHP’s professional values are summed up in one easy-to-remember acronym, “CHP PRIDE.” Those values are: Courage, Honesty, Professionalism, Principles, Respect, Integrity, Dedication, and Esprit de corps (which means teamwork).
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As Californians, you expect the CHP to provide safety, service, and security to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Whether you are involved in a traffic collision, file a report on a stolen vehicle, or need assistance when your vehicle becomes disabled on the side of the road, you expect us to be out there ready for action.
There is an ongoing debate at our office regarding which of the eight different values detailed in CHP PRIDE is the most important. To me, it is integrity.
Integrity is defined as doing the right thing when nobody else is looking. Integrity is a moral defense against corrupting influence. If I have been taught one thing during my years with the CHP it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity and courage are forever.
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When I decided to become an officer with the CHP, I didn’t do it for the pay, the benefits or the retirement. I didn’t really care about those things at the time I joined. I was 23 years old and only cared the CHP was going to allow me to drive a black-and-white car, help people who needed assistance, and go out and enforce traffic laws.
I understood the job was dangerous, but it was what I went to school for (criminology) and I was so excited to be part of the CHP family that I didn’t consider the danger of the job.
My desire to be a part of a professional organization whose mission is to serve the public outweighed my worries about the dangers of a career in law enforcement. I knew I wanted to wear the uniform and I wanted to help people in need.
Growing up, I respected police officers and what law enforcement stood for, and I certainly looked up to the CHP officers in my community. I wanted to be proud of myself and wanted my family to be proud of me. Joining the CHP gave me my own version of CHP PRIDE.
I remember issuing my first ticket. It may sound funny to say this, but I was so excited to issue a citation. After 27 grueling weeks at the CHP Academy; I finally got to do my job and to make my first-ever traffic stop.
As I exited my patrol vehicle and walked up to the car, I advised the violator of the reason for the stop and asked for his registration and insurance. Luckily for me, the violator was patient and understanding.
I issued the citation for speed and the violator drove away. I really wish I could go back in time and thank him for his patience and kindness. I was brand new and he made my job easy that day.
I tell you this story because every day is a learning opportunity and no two days are the same. We have our good days and bad days, just like everyone else, but our integrity and pride for our organization always stays true.
Our No. 1 daily goal as CHP officers is to uphold our mission by providing the motoring public with the highest level of safety, service, and security.
We apply this mission while keeping in mind our organizational values of fairness, respect for others, ethical practices, and equitable treatment for all. These values were in effect long before I joined the department and will be practiced long after I retire.
All of this is what makes the CHP a leader in law enforcement and why I am proud to call myself a member of the California Highway Patrol.
Officer Traci Gallian can be reached at email@example.com. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.