When most people think of the California Highway Patrol, they think of officers riding up and down stretches of highway on motorcycles or in cruisers. Most of the time, these are the folks pulling people over and, sometimes, these are the folks you see on the news chasing suspects as they run for the Mexican border. But, like most law enforcement agencies, when you see the agency in action on a day to day basis, what you see is only a portion of the work that they do. In 1995, when the California Highway Patrol merged with the California State Police, the CHP became as much a traditional state policing and investigations agency as much as it was a highway safety agency.
Along with patrolling stretches of state highway, officers of the CHP have the opportunity to participate in any of the following programs and task forces:
Air Operations - If you want to fly a helicopter, the CHP can help. They have an active Air Operations Division that operate aircraft in support of CHP missions and objectives.
Collission Investigation Unit - Responsible for keeping statewide records and working with local law enforcement agencies on matters concerning minor to serious collissions.
Community Assistance - As needed, CHP officers may be tasked to support local police when needed. When this happens, officers can encounter any number of incidents which they normally would not encounter on the highway; like domestic disputes, home invasions, and bar fights.
Computer Crimes Investigations - Not what you would suspect from a highway safety organization, but the CHP, in its state police capacity, maintains a computer crimes unit that patrols the information super highway for cases of computer fraud and the misuse of state property.
Federal / State Asset Forfeiture Program - The CHP selects one of its officers to receive dual authority as a CHP officer and a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. This officer represents California in the Federal Asset Forfeiture Program and may sometimes be requried to travel outside of California to work.
Mexico Liaison - The California Highway Patrol works to maintain a close working relationship and mutually beneficial relationship with Mexican law enforcement. The Mexico Liaison typically works with Mexican law enforcement to capture car thieves believed to be in Mexico and to recover cars stolen from the U.S. and delivered to Mexico.
Multi-Agency Vehicle Task Forces - Breaking up and prosecuting those behind rings of vehicle theives is a major priority for the CHP. The theft and sale of stolen cars fuels and underground criminal economy and costs tax and insurance payers millions of dollars per year. There are several task forces of this type around the state, and the CHP lends officers whenever it can.
Protective Services - This division is responsible for protecting state elected officials, judges, state employees, and state buildings. This division also maintains the CHP's SWAT Team, which responds to high risk incidents involving the CHP's jurisdiction.
State Security Division - Responsible for administering sections like Counterterrorism & Threat Awareness, State Terrorism Threat Assessment Center, Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Centers, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force
Tax Seizure Program - Originally a program of the California State Police, the CHP administers the Tax Seizure Program and works closely with agencies like the California Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization to seize assets of individuals who didn't feel like paying their taxes.
Workers' Comp and Disability Retirement Fraud Reporting - CHP officers assigned to this program take reports of and investigate matters concerning fraud of the state Workers' Compensation program or the Disability Retirement System.
Education - This is a broad category, but the California Highway Patrol administers several programs focussed on education. For the person who enjoys teaching others and explaining information to groups of people, this is an excellent way to do just that while serving the CHP. Just some of the education programs include the Vehicle Theft Training and Awareness Program, El Protector, and the Commercial Industry Education Program. Officers with enough experience can even be assigned to instruct new CHP recruits at the California Highway Patrol Academy near Sacramento.
California Highway Patrol. CHP Active Programs and Task Forces
California Highway Patrol. CHP Organization