Seventeen years ago at my California Highway Patrol Academy graduation, then Commissioner Spike Helmick addressed our class and said, “You are entering into a new family, the CHP family.” Law enforcement officers are bound by a brotherhood and sisterhood. I feel special to be a part of a group of people with common ideas and goals. The law enforcement community is a tight-knit group of officers from all over the country. It doesn’t matter if you are called officer, deputy, ranger, trooper, warden, marshal, or constable. Across the country, we support one another and value what each other does by continuing to protect the people of this great nation.
On Easter last year, I was given a special gift – a Facebook message from my cousin, letting me know I have another cousin, in Louisiana, that I should make contact with and get to know. I knew I had family in Louisiana, but never thought I would find out I have a cousin who is a Louisiana State Trooper! Imagine my excitement to know I was not the only law enforcement officer in the family. I am honored and proud to tell you about my cousin, Sgt. Matt Trahan of the Louisiana State Police.
Matt started his career as a university police officer in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, “The Ragin Cajuns.” After five years, Matt left to join the Louisiana State Police. Matt has been a trooper for 21 years, serving in the field, as public information officer, on drug recognition duties and as a child safety seat technician. Matt is also an expert on recognizing motorists who are driving while intoxicated. He is an accident reconstructionist, and has been promoted to a supervisor position as a sergeant.
He has implemented many programs with the state police, which are still being used. Matt is a proud member of the police unity tour, which is a group of law enforcement officers who ride bicycles for fallen officers and their families during police officer memorial week. The slogan of the police unity tour is, “We ride for those who died.” In 2014, Matt rode for fallen Fresno Area CHP officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez. To find out that Matt participated in a ride for two Fresno CHP officers was astonishing, since we had not even met yet. What a small world we live in.
Matt and I live 2,000 miles from each other and on different sides of this great country. Our grandfathers are brothers, and both were soldiers in World War II. After the war, my grandpa moved to California, and his grandpa remained in his home state of Louisiana. My grandpa passed away when I was 13, and unfortunately, I never knew I had so many family members in Louisiana, let alone one who is a trooper. Matt is the brother I never had but always wanted.
According to Matt’s daughter Morgaine, we even look alike. How about that! Matt grew up watching the show “ChiPs” and always dreamt of becoming a CHP officer. He loves everything about the CHP, right down to the uniforms. Matt constantly reminds me, in his southern accent, “Y’all’s uniforms are great!”
In January I went to Louisiana to meet Matt and his family. He and I instantly connected and the visit felt like we had known each other our whole lives. The phrase, “We never skipped a beat,” is quite the understatement. While on my visit, I had the pleasure of visiting his unit and was able to see the similarities between the CHP and the state police. I was able to speak to his former lieutenant colonel, his shift lieutenant, along with many troopers during my visit and I felt like I was standing in a CHP briefing. I felt honored when his lieutenant colonel gave me a Louisiana State Police throw blanket to display proudly.
It was truly an honor and an experience that I will not forget and will appreciate for a lifetime.