Did you know California Highway Patrol’s top cop is from the Valley?

California

Cops are known for their love of donuts but instead of eating them, these guys are doing donuts!

It’s like a scene out of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

But this is the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento.

A line-up of cadets, marching in formation.

Every CHP officer goes through training here.

Back in 1982 a young man by the name of Warren Stanley was a cadet.

He grew up in a huge family of 12 kids in the tiny little town of Dos Palos, where everybody knows your name.

“If you were doing something that you were not supposed to be doing, by the time you got home somebody had probably already called your mom and dad and let them know,” Stanley says.

Today Warren Stanley is the CHP Commissioner.

He manages the fifth largest law enforcement agency in the U.S. with 11,000 personnel, including this classroom of cadets.    

“Good morning commissioner,” cadets shout in unison.

“How’s everybody doing?” Stanley asks.

“Outstanding sir,” the group shouts back.

He’s come a long way since this 1979 Dos Palos High School year book came out.

He’s the tall guy in the back row, with the afro, on the basketball team and right here on the baseball team.

“Everything thing looks so small,” Stanley reacts as the former Bronco returns to his alma matter to inspire the kids.

“Once a Bronco, always a Bronco,” Stanley says to the crowd gathered in the DPHS gym, setting off a roaring response and from enthusiastic teens.

Stanley also played drums in the marching band.

A hat just like the one he wore is still on display in his old band room.

“We’d stick a ploom down in that,” Warren demonstrates while recalling fond memories from 40 years ago.

But just a few years after graduating from here, while patrolling the 101 in L.A., the reality of his dangerous job set in.

“I heard tires squeeling. I saw a vehicle that was out of control and the vehicle hit the left rear of my patrol vehicle and pushed it into me and pined me in between the patrol car and the guard rail. I was just hoping my legs hadn’t been cut off and I reached down and started feeling my legs and I had blood all over my legs,” Stanley recalls.

The guy he pulled over helped him to safety.

“Needless to say, he did not get a citation (laughing),” Stanley says.

By 2002 he’s commander of the CHP Academy, where cadets train to be officers in a grueling 6 month curriculum, testing them physically and mentally. 

Did he ever think he’d make it to the top of the chain of command?

“Nah. someone will say ‘hey commissioner Stanley’ or something like that and I’ll (think) oh yeah I’m the Commissioner of the CHP. I don’t think about it. I just do my job,” Stanley says.

The agency’s long history of dedicated officers is preserved in the CHP Museum.

“That gun is pretty wild,” CBS47’S Joey Horta points out.

“Yeah it is!” Stanley says with excitement.

He explains it’s a Tommy Gun, used by CHP motorcycle officers in 1927.

It’s part of the agency’s history.

Stanley is too.

He’s the first African-American to get the top job.   

“You know, I really don’t think about it unless somebody brings it up,” Stanley says.

The sound of splashing water keeps the memory of fallen officers alive.

For Stanley, breaking the news to the family of a fallen officer is one of the hardest parts of the job.

“I hope I never have to do it again,” Stanley says.

The names of three guys he went to the academy with, including his partner, are on this memorial fountain.

“It’s a gut punch and it hits you very hard,” Stanley says.

Officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez are among the latest added to the list, both killed when their patrol car crashed on Highway 99 in Kingsburg in February of 2014.

These cadets march up to the memorial every Wednesday, to polish the nameplates in a solemn ceremony.

Stanley says he loves his job but misses being on patrol.

“Going out, working the road and providing services to the public,” is how he sums it up.

He even trained last year to ride a horse in the Rose Parade.

But he only has a few years left before mandatory retirement.

CHP has a maximum age limit of 60, when this history-making law enforcement leader will finally take it easy, forever greatful of where he came from.  

“Most kids probably wouldn’t like growing up in a small town but I did because you have those small town values which I believe translate into law enforcement. I grew up with those values.”

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