When most people think about law enforcement, they identify that with a badge. The gold seven-point star on a CHP officer’s chest is something we are very proud of, but we are just as proud of the patch we wear on our uniforms.
The bright, colorful CHP patch is thought to have been designed by a state traffic officer in 1948. How cool to know one of our own officers designed the patch we proudly wear today. The background design is depicted in gold trim on a blue field. These are the official state colors. Over the badge is superimposed an abbreviated replica of the Official Great Seal of the State. Keeping watch over the tableau of the Great Seal is the armored figure of Minerva who, in Greek mythology, was goddess of the arts and sciences, wise in peace and war. Like the political birth of our state, she was born full grown from the brain of Jupiter, father of the gods and guardian of law and order. A grizzly bear stands at the feet of the goddess. Now extinct in California, it was a particularly large and fierce animal. It has long symbolized the state as independent and formidable.
The grape leaves at the nose of the bear are emblematic of California’s agricultural production. Living in the central San Joaquin Valley, we are well aware of the agriculture production of our great state. The miner laboring with a pick axe represents industry, while the San Francisco Bay shipping scene typifies commercial greatness. In the background, the sun rising in the east over the awesome grandeur of the snow-clad Sierra Nevada peaks contrasts with the desert cactus in the foreground. This is thought to represent the extraordinarily diverse topography of the state and also symbolizes the CHP’s statewide jurisdiction. Finally, the state motto, “Eureka (I have found it)” applies to the success of the miner at work.
Centered in the blue field is the department’s seven point badge of authority. The seven points of the badge symbolize the department’s philosophy toward professional law enforcement. The points at the top represent character and integrity. The points at either side refer to knowledge and judgment. Upholding these are the tenets of honor and loyalty. Sustaining them all is the final tenet of courtesy.
As a teenager, I admired the patch that CHP officers wore. The number of times I observed the patch was not always the most favorable for me (I once received a citation), but I learned from every one of these encounters. Although learning the hard way is definitely part of my character, I was still attracted to the uniform and swore that, one day, I would wear the same tan uniform with the bright blue patch. The CHP uniform is unique and stands out.
While training at the academy, cadets wear what we call “Smurf Blue.” The cadet uniform consists of dark blue trousers and a light blue dress shirt. Cadets also do not wear patches on their uniforms. For 27 weeks, cadets are learning and aspiring to one day be called officers and wear the gold star and blue patches. It is a rite of passage for all who pass the rigors of the 27-week academy. I could not wait for graduation day to earn the right to wear the CHP uniform, gold badge, and most importantly the patch.
The tan uniform I wear today is the same uniform several thousand officers who have gone before me have worn. I not only represent myself, but I live by the thought that one of us represents all of us! This uniform has a reputation, one that is held in high regard all over our great state and nation. I am proud of my profession and represent myself and the CHP with dignity and respect, right down to the uniform I wear daily. The next time you see a CHP officer, take a moment and look at the uniform patch that person wears with pride.
Officer Traci Gallian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.