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CHP & California State Police Merger

History of CHP

For many years, the concept of consolidating the California State Police (CSP) with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) had been discussed and then shelved. In recent years, reductions in state fiscal resources and a focused effort to streamline government agencies and operations prompted a revival of the CSP/CHP consolidation concept.

In March 1994, Governor Pete Wilson directed Dean R. Dunphy, Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency (BT&H) to officially evaluate the feasibility of consolidation. A preliminary fiscal analysis was prepared by the CHP to determine if merging the two departments could achieve an increased level of public safety and service without higher costs. The analysis proved favorable and a formal consolidation proposal was prepared for Governor Wilson including an additional report for the Governor to present to the Milton Marks Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy (Little Hoover Commission). Preliminary indicators also showed bi-partisan support in the legislature for CSP/CHP consolidation.

CHP's Executive Staff directed the offices of primary interest (OPIs) to establish a liaison with their respective counterparts in the CSP. Initial contacts were conducted with the understanding that consolidation might not take place, but to establish an information base in the event the plan was approved by the Legislature. State Police management also began preliminary preparations for a possible merger, including developing a "transition manual," with a detailed overview of CSP activities, administration, responsibilities, and organizational structure.

Governor Wilson wanted an economic and structural reorganization that would establish an entity capable of providing the highest levels of law enforcement service for the public, state employees, and state facilities. His goal was to gain legislative approval and complete the consolidation process by July 1, 1995. The CHP immediately formed a CSP/CHP "transition team" to concentrate on achieving the Governor's objective and target date. A key element for consideration was maintenance of the current public safety services performed by the CSP while incorporating those services into the existing structure of the CHP.

The Little Hoover Commission held a public hearing on March 16, 1995 and the consolidation proposal was unanimously approved after testimony from BT&H Secretary Dean R. Dunphy, CHP Commissioner Maury Hannigan, and then Deputy Commissioner Dwight "Spike" Helmick with additional presentations made by CSP Chief Duane Lowe and representatives of the Department of General Services, CSP Association, and the California Union of Safety Employees.

The CHP's Office of Special Representative formalized the written language of the Governor's Reorganization Plan to modify sections of the Government Code and other codes required by the consolidation. Final legislative action came in the form of an Assembly Resolution in support of the merger.

On July 12, 1995, 271 uniformed officers of the State Police became part of the 5,713 sworn officers of the Highway Patrol. The 68 non-uniformed employees of the CSP transferred to existing civil service classifications, with the exception of CSP's Communications Operators who were assimilated into the CHP's Communications Operator II classification. The 269 uniformed personnel changed from California State Police classifications to new CHP classifications established specifically for the consolidation.

In order to complete this transition of former CSP personnel into CHP classifications, a comprehensive three-phase training program was developed. This training was designed to provide CSP personnel with the tools necessary to successfully perform the full range of the new duties for CHP classifications. Mandatory courses ranging from four days to three weeks were implemented for both uniformed and non-uniformed staff including field orientation periods for specified classifications. Almost all CSP personnel successfully transitioned into CHP's corresponding rank structure and now receive the same pay and benefits.

The merger did not increase CHP's uniformed personnel strength beyond the addition of the authorized CSP staffing level. As a result, the CHP assumed responsibility only for those services which were provided by the CSP at the time of consolidation. In June 1995, all state agencies/departments were provided with details about the merger and the enforcement responsibilities assumed by the CHP. Local police departments and sheriffs offices were also contacted to discuss procedures for responding to calls on state facilities located in their jurisdictions. The CHP continued several contracts for expanded services, including the following state facilities:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles - patrol services on a full-time basis for the Hope Street office in Los Angeles; security services at hearings.
  • Employment Development Department - patrol services on a full-time basis at unemployment offices in Los Angeles and the Bay Area; security services at hearings.
  • Board of Equalization - serving tax seizure and arrest warrants.
  • Franchise Tax Board - serving tax seizure and arrest warrants. 
  • California Courts of Appeal - providing security services at hearings. 
  • Department of Water Resources - maintaining six field offices dedicated to the State Water Project including both ground and air surveillance services. (Contract expired December 1995.)
  • Department of Consumer Affairs - providing security services at hearings.
  • Department of Transportation - providing police services at the Transbay Transit Terminal located in San Francisco.

The CHP will also provide providing dignitary protection services for the following agencies:

  • Secretary of State
  • State Treasurer's Office
  • State Controller's Office
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Department of Insurance

The CHP cataloged every state-owned building and facility in California to provide a resource for dispatching officers to service calls.

One of the key benefits of the CSP/CHP consolidation was efficiencies in governmental expenditures and operations. Preliminary fiscal analysis, however, indicated that there would be both costs and savings associated with the merger although it was originally anticipated that most of the savings would be immediate, while many of the costs would be spread over several years.

The fiscal profile initially developed showed costs/savings in two main categories: "personnel services" and "operating expenses & equipment." During the fiscal planning for the merger, the CHP estimated it could realize substantial savings in equipment and operating expenses, however, fiscal problems developed in three primary areas:

  • Communications: Unanticipated costs were incurred to update and repair CSP telecommunications equipment to ensure its compatibility with existing CHP equipment. Unplanned costs also resulted with the reestablishment of CSP radio communications operations in CHP dispatch centers. Originally, plans called for consolidation of the CSP/CHP dispatch centers after the first year; however, due to operational issues the centers were consolidated as soon as feasible.
  • Facilities: Savings in the rental of facilities did not occur at the same rate as initially anticipated, although all but four facilities were vacated and operations assimilated into CHP facilities. The Department was required to continue rental payments for a longer period of time than expected after vacating some buildings owned and controlled by the Department of General Services.
  • Equipment: The CHP anticipated that CSP vehicles owned by the Department of General Services would be transferred during the merger at no additional cost to the Department, however, the CHP was required to purchase the vehicles from DGS to maintain the existing level of service.

The consolidation, however, has resulted in undetermined savings by reducing redundancies including vacating 12 leased facilities, eliminating duplicate contracts for services, and streamlining contracts for law enforcement services.

The primary focus of the Highway Patrol has always been California's freeways and the highways in the unincorporated areas of our state, but the merger with the CSP has changed and broadened the scope of the Department. The CHP assumes the responsibilities of protecting the Governor and other constitutional officers, as well as everyone who works in or visits a state building. To accomplish this new mission, the CHP absorbed and integrated the following CSP units into its organizational structure:

  • Office of Dignitary Protection (ODP) - The reorganization merely placed ODP under the CHP but its role did not change. ODP provides protection to state constitutional officers and other dignitaries as appropriate or provided for under contractual agreements. ODP is also responsible for the Department's Explosive Ordinance Unit and dignitary threat assessments/investigations.
  • Office of Capitol Services (OCAPS) - OCAPS, formerly known as the CSP Capitol Corps is responsible for providing security and protection on the grounds of the State Capitol including the Legislative Office Building adjacent to the Capitol. The Department's Equestrian and Bicycle Units are assigned to OCAPS as well. Additionally, OCAPS is responsible for coordinating security efforts with the Senate and Assembly Sergeants-at-Arms for security of the legislature.
  • Office of Court Services (OCS) - OCS consolidates reimbursable court security services provided throughout the state under one command. Pending final contractual approvals, OCS will be responsible for providing security services to the Supreme and Appellate Courts at various locations in California although it will be headquartered at the Supreme Court in San Francisco.

On July 12, 1995, when the Highway Patrol assumed the authority and responsibilities formerly held by the State Police, a "changing-of-the-guard" ceremony was held at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento to commemorate an organization that had provided 108 years of service to the State of California. The CSP/CHP merger offers advantages to the citizens of California through better service, greater protection and reduced expenditures.

In the same way that the CHP has always trained its officers to consider no traffic stop as "routine", the responsibility for the security of people working in state buildings will never be taken lightly. With the increased resources of the CHP behind them, state employees and facilities will be safer than ever before. Most states have one governmental law enforcement agency and now California joins this group. The CHP confidently accepts this expanded role because the Highway Patrol will now be able to provide a level of service even beyond that which has always been defined for the Department - the emphasis is unchanged; the one constant is how well the CHP will serve the public.