CHP celebrates 90 years

A California Highway Patrol officer talks to a motorist in Aptos about using a mobile phone while driving. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian file

SACRAMENTO — A celebration 90 years in the making is underway at the California Highway Patrol.

Through legislation, on Aug. 14, 1929, California witnessed the evolution of traffic enforcement with the creation of a statewide law enforcement agency known today as the CHP. 

The purpose of creating the CHP was to provide uniform traffic law enforcement statewide. 

“The history of the CHP is storied tapestry,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. “Today, we, as an organization, celebrate 90 years of serving the people of this great state, which is possible because of the dedicated women and men who make up the CHP and the support of the public and our traffic safety partners.” 

As California continues to grow and change, so does the span of enforcement responsibility of the CHP. When the organization began with its 285 personnel, California had a population of roughly 5.6 million people and 2.1 million registered vehicles. Today, the CHP has nearly 11,000 uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. The state now has about 40 million people, with more than 35 million registered vehicles. 

“To this day, assuring the safe and efficient transportation of people and goods on our highway system remains our primary purpose,” the CHP said in a press release. 

Women joined the ranks in 1974, and various types of patrol vehicles have been implemented – including aircraft, horses and bicycles. 

According to the CHP, 231 officers have laid down their lives in service to the public. 

“While the CHP continues to evolve as a law enforcement agency, the priority of the department and its personnel remains constant — fulfilling our mission while maintaining public trust,” Stanley said. 

To take a virtual tour of the CHP Museum, visit chpmuseum.org. 

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