I was a California Highway Patrol officer from 1985 to 2005. During the early 1990s, I worked at the CHP Border Division as the Assistant Public Affairs Cordinator (APAC), and as the Media Information Officer (MIO).

Part of my job as the APAC was to go through the local newspapers and find stories related to law enforcement. I would cut appropriate articles out and put them in a scrapbook. The scrapbook would then be passed among the Division brass so they could stay up on local issues.

One day during my break, someone walked by my office and saw me reading the comics. They jokingly asked if this was a part of my job. I shot back that you never knew when the comics might involve the CHP. I was only joking, but I was soon to be proven right.

Garry Trudeau does a comic strip called Doonesbury. It has always been one of the most popular comics. Its subjects are often political and occasionally controversial. In September of 1992, my joke about the CHP being in the "funnies" came true. One of the Doonesbury characters named BD is known for always wearing a helmet (football, military, etc.). In 1992, BD become a CHP motorcycle officer.

Here is a copy of one of those early drawings of BD as a CHP motorcycle officer.
(September 27, 1992)


I immediately noticed the shoulder patch and helmet were wrong. The patch said "CHP". The helmet was two-toned and had no visor. This is not a big deal. It wasn't like anyone would think it was a description of a real officer. Hey, it's a comic strip. Yet, being the helpful guy that I am, I decided to let the author know how a CHP motorcycle officer really looked.

I sent Garry Trudeau a quick note saying I enjoyed Doonesbury. I also described the minor errors I had discovered. My letter included a picture of our patch ("camera-ready") and a CHP motorcycle officer in uniform.

Now, I began to check the comics as part of my actual duties in order to see what this cartoon officer was doing. A few weeks later, I was surprised to see BD's patch and helmet had changed to be more like the real ones.

Here is a copy of the modified drawing of BD as a CHP motorcycle officer.
(November 11, 1992)


The shoulder patch is actually quite complicated. Trudeau did an nice job considering the small amount of space he had to work with. The helmet now reflected the CHP's three-toned style and visor. Here are some photos of an actual CHP shoulder patch and helmet:


Trudeau sent a nice note thanking me for the information and helping keep him accurate.

This is just another example of the CHP living up to its motto of "Safety and Service."







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since September 4, 2005