Coffee with CHP of Woodland

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On Wednesday, June 5, officers and volunteers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Woodland office came to Winters to share some coffee and perspective with Winters residents at Steady Eddy’s Coffee House. While everyone wore a smile, officers were conspicuously dressed in regulation khaki and senior volunteers wore white service button down shirts. As the event was relaxed and informal, the uniforms served only to make CHP officials visible. All officials were highly approachable and ready to offer a better understanding of the person behind the law enforcement badge. Sergeant Matt Braisted Timmons light-heartedly explained the meaning of his Irish middle name and easily transitioned into trading fond memories of the surrounding counties he has worked in. His bright smile and genuinely easy acquaintance is so charming, it might take a while to notice he’s wearing a sidearm. Bearing the inner bulk of his bulletproof vest and outer bulk of a well-equipped duty belt, Sargent Timmons’ khaki  CHP uniform remains immaculately starched and pressed. Three gold rimmed and black outlined blue chevron stripes on his upper arms indicate his rank as a sergeant. At his forearm are three service stripes, each one representing five years of his continued service with the CHP. Across his chest are several badges, including a 10851 pin, an award to officers who dramatically curtail auto thefts within a 12 month period, a CHP Expert Shooting badge and an American flag pin. Over his heart is his shield badge–a well polished seven pointed star representing integrity, judgement, loyalty, courtesy, honor, knowledge and character. These seven rays encircle a golden California State Seal, under which reads the unique badge numbers only Timmons will carry. Badge numbers indicate seniority and are retired, safely, with their officer. They are earned in accordance with how well an officer excels in academics, ranks in physical training and when they graduated from the academy. The lower the number, the higher the ranking.  After discussing some local community issues and detailing a heart-wrenching story about a teen drunk driver that served to outline why the emotional draw is the hardest part of his job, a father of three and resident of Davis, Officer Armando Ocampo asked, “When you guys [motorists] see us out there, what do you think of us? What is your perception of us?” These honest one-on-one interactions offered a rare opportunity for law enforcement and citizens to exchange perspectives. After earning a masters degree in counseling from Sacramento State,  Ocampo joined the force when he was 34, bringing his valuable training and background experience with him.  “For me, I try to understand people. I see things differently than someone else might see them,” he says. Volunteer Jose Canas works with CHP through their Senior Volunteer Program, in which he and seven other volunteers assist in both administrative and field capacities. Canas is a tall El Salvadorian American with a soft voice. He shared his experience working alongside all sorts of officers during the conversation. Canas opines that CHP officers are in the line of duty with the objective to enforce the roads and highways. In contrast, police officers cover and enforce law in all areas, constantly interacting with, he says, “the worst of the worst, day in and day out, and that changes their outlook over time.” He says CHP Senior Volunteer Service training takes about a month, and that he has been a volunteer with this program for six years. Canas enjoys the interactions his contribution affords him, particularly when participating in seminars the CHP offer to teach senior citizens safe driving techniques and careful understanding of new limitations. Helpful highway tips from the officers included: When another motorist is showing aggression, don’t make eye-contact with them. Train your children to keep seatbelts fastened and train yourself to drive without distraction. The golden rule applies when on the road and off onto the shoulder too. Show maturity, courtesy and remember to slow down.     Canas adds “It’s better to lose a minute of your life, than to lose a your life in one minute.” Photos : Officer Matt B. Timmons inspects and signs a fix it ticket against Steady Eddy’s coffee house in downtown Winters.   LaDonna Williams (blond) Barbara Garcia (brunette) enjoy a smile and roundtable chat with a cyclist. Volunteer Jose Canas, Ellie Yeatman, Richard Kleeberg and Officer Armando Ocampo share stories, smiles and a table. ]]>

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