My career with the California Highway Patrol has given me many wonderful opportunities. But I could never have imagined becoming a community outreach officer.
Growing up in a small town had advantages, such as knowing most of my neighbors and going to school with the same kids from kindergarten through high school. The majority of my time was spent on homework and participating in sports, but I was also expected to have side jobs. Most of the jobs I had during included “odd” jobs. At 13, I mowed lawns and helped with counting inventory in a mechanic’s shop. Most of these jobs were done in the dead of summer, so you can imagine how hot a mechanic’s shop felt like in July. I remember spending my lunch breaks running through sprinklers or swimming in a water truck.
I also learned the value of a dollar and quickly realized what a full day’s work meant when I was employed in a packing house for my uncle during the summer months throughout high school and college. As part of my responsibilities, I was expected to lift 50-pound boxes and make wood pallets ready to load into trucks. It was a grueling job, but as my dad would invariably say, “You will look back on these days as the greatest days of your life, and you will have an appreciation for hard work and value the dollar you made.”
Today I am proud to be a CHP Officer. The CHP Academy was one of the toughest things I have ever completed in my life. As cadets we would wake up at 5 a.m., do calisthenics, run, and then we would transition into a classroom setting for eight hours on seemingly endless lessons and laws. Driving, shooting, physical methods of arrest, and Spanish were all part of our curriculum. If I could do one thing again at the academy, it would be the driving portion. Wow! Getting to drive 110 mph (without getting a ticket) and having an instructor telling you to go faster was so awe-inspiring!
After six long months, I was presented with a CHP badge and given the title of “Officer.” I realize it is an honor to wear the badge, but the badge actually belongs to the citizens of California, who have entrusted me to wear the badge with integrity and professionalism. Only after a long career serving the people of this great state and upon retirement will I get to keep that badge. Until then, I strive to earn the badge every day.
After graduating, I was fortunate to be assigned to the West Los Angeles office where I was mentored by two of the most prominent officers I know. Sgt. Lynne Blum and Officer Rick Borges molded me into the officer I am now. I cannot thank them enough for their patience and understanding. I also learned a great deal from other officers who came before me and find myself calling them from time to time for their advice and guidance.
Every officer has their story. We all came from somewhere before we became CHP officers. I encourage anyone to sit and talk with a CHP officer. Ask them where they came from before they chose a profession in law enforcement. You will be surprised at the conversations that ensue. You never know, we may have more in common than you initially thought, and you might just make a new friend.