RIDGECREST — California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Zimms was one of four law enforcement officers honored at the John Ward 24th Annual Respect For Law recognition dinner here March 29. Zimms is assigned to the CHP Inyokern Resident Post and patrols from Mojave and California City to Ridgecrest and Inyokern and Boron to Randsburg. He has also worked in California City under the contract to support California City Police Department.
Accepting the award, Zimms thanked the organizations sponsoring the program, thanked his fellow CHP officers for their support and said he appreciated the support of allied agencies.
“But also, thank you to my new wife, Jamie,” said Zimms. “She was with me through the academy and put up with all my stress. I work for a fantastic command through the Mojave CHP Office, great supervisors. I worked through Bakersfield for just a tiny bit and I got a taste of the busy, busy life. It made me realize how good I have it at the Mojave CHP Office”
Before presenting the award, Mojave Area CHP Office Commander Lt. John Williams provided some background, saying Zimms has been with the department for two years.
“He lives in Bakersfield and he has had the opportunity to leave and he has chosen not to,” said Williams. “He’s willing to commute from Bakersfield to here, just so he can serve his community. That shows his dedication.”
Williams said the CHP is a statistic-driven agency, noting that Zimms had written 600 tickets, recovered three stolen vehicles, made 20 driving under the influence arrests, stored or impounded 25 vehicles and worked several vehicle accidents. One of the accidents he worked provided a good example of why he was selected for the honor.
“We don’t have a detective bureau per se, so we make the officers go a little bit farther than other officers have to do,” said Williams. “Every once in awhile we will have a case come through that’s very difficult for us to catch the bad guy. We all know we’ve had some problems on 395. We did have someone who was driving very irresponsibly. They crossed over some lines, went head on with some folks and a bunch of cars swerved to miss them and he didn’t touch anybody, and he got away.”
According to Williams, the dangerous driving resulted in someone else getting in an accident.
“Unfortunately a bunch of cars crashed and somebody lost their life,” he said. “These are very hard for us to investigate, because there’s really no evidence.”
Williams said Zimms responded to the scene and when Williams also arrived, he saw Zimms dealing with the accident and comforting the family of the victim.
“I heard him promise the family that he was going to get the person responsible for this,” said Williams. “That’s a pretty big promise and my stress level went up a bit when I heard him say that. But, he was committed.”
During investigation of the accident, Zimms checked his own patrol camera to see if he might have passed the suspect vehicle while responding to the scene, but also checked security cameras at businesses all along the route.
“He found a photo of the car that was really grainy and we sent it, actually, to the FBI to try and see if they could do anything with it - they couldn’t,” said Williams. “He took that grainy photo and he started showing it to all the other officers. One of the officers said ‘you know what, even though it’s really grainy, I think I recognize this car.’ From that he went out and wrote his own search warrants and found the car.”
Further investigation revealed that the suspects cell phone had been active in the vicinity of the crash at the time.
“Ultimately we got the guy, it was all because of his hard work,” said Williams. “I’ve got to tell you, most of the stuff when it’s happening doesn’t happen when you’re at work and you’re not doing anything. It happens when you’re at home or you’re at Disneyland. He answered the call every time and he was constantly working from home or on his own time.”
Others honored at the event were Ridgecrest Police Officer Jose Barragan, China Lake Police Officer Field Training Officer Dalton Ward and Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Shotwell.
The awards are hosted by IWV Optimist Club; Ridgecrest Elks Lodge; China Lake Rotary; Ridgecrest Kiwanis Club; AltaOne Federal Credit Union; Ridgecrest Lions Club; Ridgecrest Fraternal Order of Eagles; Women's Center, High Desert Inc. and Veterans of Foreign Wars.