California Highway Patrol Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol program keeps seniors in community service
For many people, retirement is looked as the time in life to break from the daily grind of work, and for others it is a new beginning. Such is the case with the volunteers of the California Highway Patrol Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol Program (SVP). Based out of the El Cajon CHP station, the roots of this program began in 1922 as a pilot program with nine people. Today, there are more than 700 SVPs with more than 70 offices statewide.
The local SVP has the largest area of coverage from the El Cajon border to Borrego Springs and from the Imperial County line to 70th Street in La Mesa. It currently consists of 42 seniors participating in the program and is looking at taking on more volunteers.
One of just a few of the original volunteers, California Highway Patrol Retired Senior Patrol Administrator Bob Weishan, now working as a SVP for 24 years in November said he became involved when he read an article in the paper about the new CHP program. A Korean War veteran and retired, working and volunteering came hand in hand. He volunteered with the San Diego Open Golf Tournament for 40 years, refereed high school and college football, umpired high school and college baseball and as a veteran continuously works with veteran causes. To this day he still meets yearly with his company from the war, this year being the 40th reunion with his Korean War comrades.
In reading about the new Senior Volunteer Patrol program, Weishan said he was retired then and had to go see what it was all about. There was a time when he actively wanted and looked at a career in law enforcement and this program intrigued him.
“I was surprised, it looked like everything was going to move on, and I thought, ‘I want to be a part of that,” he said with no regrets and has learned and enjoyed his work with the CHP.
Weishan said the SVP handles roads in the unincorporated area as well as the Interstate. And first and foremost it is their duty to assist the CHP with whatever they need done.
“Our street volunteers come in at 5:00 a.m., have a briefing with the officers and work until noon,” he said. “The next shift will come in at noon and work until around 8:00 p.m. This way we can help during commuting hours, they are out there with the officers, they’ve been briefed and we put two cars out in the morning and two out in the afternoon.”
Weishan said they handle all the complaints that come into El Cajon office. He assigns complaints to each car unit that goes out.
“First of all we are there to assist the officers when needed, like crashes for example, and they take that responsibility very seriously,” he said. “Complaints vary from excessive speed, abandoned vehicles, cars parked in excess of 72 hours. Then they go out and check it out. If they find the car is parked as a header, they call a beat officer to come look at it and take action. We do not take that decision upon ourselves. We can tag the car for three days and come back and check it. Bottom line, if there is anything that the officer needs, you are under their direction, when not, deal with complaints.”
Weishan said other than the daily duties the SVP does a lot of work in the communities. They are frequently asked to join in on the local parades, to help with traffic control at community events and graduations.
“We go to Pine Valley, Ramona, Jamul and pretty well anyone that ask for our help at a community event, we go out and give them a hand,” he said. We also are part of the snow and chain patrol in the wintertime up into the mountains and work with the county roads keeping the traveling lanes going. We are out there during the fires, closing roads and directing traffic. We keep busy.”
SVP oversees the School Safety Patrol, with around 20 elementary schools. Working with the County, they provide the kids, boots, raingear, caps, vests, stop/slow signs, and the SVP works with an advisor from each school and observes how they do. They are graded every time they go out and observe. Weishan said that SVP officers take everything that they do seriously and understand its importance to the communities that it serves. He also said that the program is great for active seniors and that he is continuously learning and growing.
Weishan said the SVP is fulfilling and an important part of the CHP and the communities that it serves. Always looking for motivated seniors that want to give back to the community, the CHP considers this an opportunity to make a definitive contribution towards its community’s safety service and security. To become a Senior Patrol volunteer you must be 55 years or older, able to work a minimum of four hours a week, pass a background check, have a good driving record and complete the CHP Senior Volunteer Training Program.
For more information on how to volunteer with the CHP Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol visit www.chp.ca.gov, contact your local CHP office or email the Volunteer Commander, Captain James Newberry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 843-3210.