Academy prepares citizens to assist CHP
MOJAVE – Seven volunteer graduates of California Highway Patrol Senior Volunteer Program were celebrated by California Highway Patrol Mojave Area office Nov. 14. The graduates were Judy DeVeaux, Steven Diaz, Jeffrey Lydon, Edna Parks, Samuel Ralston, Steven Ryono and Vicki Schmidt.
“The last few weeks of my life have been, without a doubt, the most interesting stuff I’ve ever experienced,” said Ryono in his class remarks. “I learned safe driving skills, how to operate the in-car radio, the radar trailer, first aid, traffic control and many other skills I had never thought I’d ever to learn in my whole life. I’m very much looking forward to employing those newly-learned skills to provide safety, service and security to the people of the state of California.”
CHP officials spoke highly of the volunteers and the program.
“The volunteers in my office are an incredible asset that we have,” said Capt. Eric Broneer of the Antelope Valley office. “The CHP has approximately the same number of officers we have now as we did in the 1970s. You can imagine the population growth and the number of licensed drivers and registered vehicles - so we’re always short handed and understaffed. A lot of the jobs that the seniors do are jobs that were previously performed by uniformed officers and some of the non-uniformed folks - and we have just as many of them as we had back then. So the tasks that the seniors perform are tasks that would otherwise have to be performed by somebody who’s being paid by the state.
“For that reason, the seniors are critical and vital - I know in the Mojave area as well - to helping us to achieve our mission and our goals. We wouldn’t be able to do the things that we’re able to do now if it wasn’t for the jobs that the seniors are currently doing. So it’s a vital that we have the volunteers. Our mission is to save lives, and the more officers we have out there, the more lives we can save. I know for a fact without the senior volunteers, we’d have a lot less officers out there that currently do working the road and in the field.”
The program was established in response to increasing need to meet the safety and service demands of communities the CHP serve. Volunteers assist in duties such as traffic control, the California Resident Foreign Registration program, school crossing guards, clerical duties, traffic complaints, crime prevention programs and assisting the school bus officer.
“The volunteer program is very near and dear to both of us,” said Lt. John Williams, commander of the Mojave Area CHP. “A lot of people don’t know that Captain Broneer here, once upon a time, was the statewide coordinator for the program and I had the pleasure of starting the Antelope Valley program 15 years ago, so we really appreciate the program.
“And I really enjoyed the relationship that Mojave and Antelope Valley share as well. We don’t we don’t see that throughout the entire state and so I really appreciate the relationship we have. I’m looking forward to working with you all. Lastly, we could not make this possible if we didn’t have support from above us.”
CHP Inland Division Chief Bill Dance said the program was essential to their strategic plan.
“One of our goals is to expand the Explorer program, and more importantly for today, the senior volunteer program,” he said. “To be part of this ceremony is wonderful. Volunteerism is in our blood. It’s what our country was founded on, we have volunteers that do great things.”
Dance joked that since he was approaching retirement, he may join the program himself.
“That may be awkward if I was a senior volunteer, maybe I’ll do that at some point later,” he said. “You all come from different backgrounds, all volunteers here have had different professions. I think we all have a servant’s heart. I know we do that as CHP officers, that’s one thing we do, is we do serve our community and you’re still serving your community. The CHP is a family and you are now part of that family.”
Dance echoed Broneer’s comment about the number of officers and expanded mission of the CHP.
“In 1995, we absorbed the state police and now we have functions for guarding and protecting and investigating crimes on state property, protecting the governor - just all sorts of things we didn’t have 30 years ago. I came on in 1990, and the job has really changed since then, there are so many more things we have to do. We couldn’t do it without the wonderful people such as yourselves and all the volunteers that are here today, you guys just do a great job. Antelope Valley and Mojave are probably two of our best senior volunteer programs - they’re well run, we get great people. From the commissioner of the California Highway Patrol for me and all the members, I want to thank you for what you’re doing. We’re lucky to have you part of our family and taking care of the day to day business of the CHP. Saving lives is what Eric mentioned, that’s what we’re all about. You can rest easy knowing that you’re saving lives too. Sometimes you can’t put a number on it, you can’t quantify it. The function that you’re going to do is going to help saving lives, you can’t quantify it, but know that you are saving lives and we appreciate you being part of the CHP.”
Graduates were presented with certificates of graduation and had their badges pinned on by friends and family members. Palmdale Mayor Steven D. Hofbauer presented the graduates with an additional certificate as did representatives from Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner and California 36th District Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s offices. A reception with cake and refreshments followed the ceremony.