This secured facility sits on 457 acres, has about 200 full-time employees and serves as the training academy for the entire state.
The live-in academy has 168 dorm rooms, which can house around 500 students. It is completely self-contained with a laundry area, classrooms, a range and a tactical shooting course, a driving course, a K-9 course, an emergency vehicle operating course, a motorcycle training network, a cafeteria, an underwater safety training tank, a recreation room, an administration building and a museum. That is where my tour begins. The museum highlights a plethora of CHP memorabilia, including badges, uniforms and articles. It also showcases vintage CHP motorcycles and modern-day ones.
Behind the administration building I found an impressive memorial fountain that displays 225 names of fallen CHP officers. Cadets were jogging, with boots in hand, from one side of the facility to the other. The sight brought back memories of base life for me, growing up.
After a peek inside a class on physical methods of arrest class, where cadets were training, I was off to see the dorm rooms where they were housed. Can I just say for the record that there is not enough closet space! Cadet training is 27 weeks long. A typical day starts at 4:30 a.m. and can run until 8 p.m.
Lt. Jeff James, commander of the Tracy CHP Area Office, shared his thoughts about the academy with me:
“I have always found it fascinating watching 100 or 200 people come in to the academy from various different backgrounds and by the end of the 27 weeks they are one cohesive unit,” James said. “Back in 2006 to 2008, I worked in administrative services at the academy. I always marveled at how they all came together by the end of those 27 weeks.”
One of the things I found most fascinating during my tour was seeing cars going through the skid pan training course. “Impressive” might be an understatement. The skid pan course is designed to teach cadets how to recover from a high-speed skid or a vehicle out of control at high speeds. This training could help save their lives in a dangerous situation.
The CHP is well known for its motorcycles and cruisers, but the agency also has boats, a SWAT team, K-9 services, horse-mounted officers, bicycle officers, an explosive ordinance detail, an air operations detail with helicopters and airplanes, a commercial vehicle enforcement team, undercover narcotics officers, dignitary protection teams, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
The next open application period is next week, 8 a.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Thursday. Hiring range is ages 21 to 36. Applicants can apply online at www.chpcareers.com.
• Anne Marie Fuller, National Mrs. Beauties of the Nation and Mrs. California BOTN, is the host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.