This week, the CHP has the big job of sifting through applications from folks across the country eager to make it as an officer. ABC7 News traffic reporter Leyla Gulen was invited to the CHP Academy in West Sacramento recently to test her mettle and see what it takes to be part of the California Highway Patrol.
It takes 27 weeks of intense training to earn the privilege of wearing the badge. During those weeks, cadets train physically and log nearly 1,300 hours of instruction. They learn about firearms training, experience high-speed driving and pursuit, DUI, accident investigation, and self-defense.
Chuck King is the Academy's Captain and Commander. A 17-year veteran, he says the CHP is looking for people who can keep up with the military-style training and demonstrate other special characteristics. "Honesty, integrity, professionalism, someone, has to be disciplined… It's someone that comes on the job because they want to make a difference," he said.
On Wednesdays, cadets perform a special ceremony paying respect to the CHP's 223 fallen officers by polishing their brass name plates that encircle the memorial fountain, a solemn reminder of the risks that come with the job. While this could be a deterrent for 25-year-old Petaluma native Alyssa Lorenzatti, it's inspiration to take her training seriously and be prepared for the hazards of the job:
"I don't think anyone could say it didn't scare them. It's definitely in the back of your mind but they train us very well here to be prepared for whatever we encounter on the road and I'm confident that once I graduate, I'll have all the tools I need to stay alive," she told ABC7 News.