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In Their Own Words

Officer Nathan Baer
Graduated from the Academy in 1999


1. When did you first think about becoming a CHP officer? Include family, friends, school presentations, local or world events, etc. that may have influenced you.

Funny as it sounds, the TV show “CHiPs” was a big influence on me. I think watching that show was what made me want to be a CHP officer. I have the last name of Baer, so when I played “CHiPs” with my friends, I would always be Officer Barry "Bear" Baricza.

I was further influenced in high school. My father had a good friend who was a CHP officer, Kenny Nielsen. He would stop by every once in a while in his Mustang and say hi when he patrolled the county area that we lived in. The positive attitude and love for the job he had was very motivating for me.

2. What obstacles did you encounter during your efforts to become an officer?

When I started the application process, I was in the U.S. Army, stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. I flew from Georgia to California for the written test, which was given out of Inland Division. When I left the Army, I moved to Modesto, California and my testing was still being conducted in Inland Division, so I had to fly from Modesto to Southern California for the oral interview.

The next obstacle was my background officer, who was not very pleasant. Although I had a clean record, good credit, and a shining military service record, I felt like he was doing his best to disqualify me.

Waiting for the job was hard as it took one year and 10 months from the beginning of the application process to the academy start date. Waiting for a call for your academy start date can become disheartening and it was hard to move forward with your life because you are in a holding pattern.


3. Describe what you were like in high school. Activities, sports, interests, etc. If you went on to college, describe your college life.

I attended San Bernardino High School and graduated in 1991. In high school I was fun- loving and liked to joke around. I was an average student, but I really enjoyed my German Class. I studied German for four years and passed the AP exam. I was an active member in the German Club. We attended German language immersion camps and participated in Oktoberfest activities. I played water polo and swam and was a member of both varsity teams. I loved going to the beach, hiking with my friends, target shooting, and driving off road in my Ford Ranger in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Honestly, I was not ready for college right after high school, so I joined the Army. I took some college courses here and there, but I went back to school full time in 2004. I graduated in June 2008 with a BS in criminal justice from ITT Technical Institute. College life was difficult as I had to balance work, school, and family, but I graduated #1 in the criminal justice program.


4. What jobs did you have before becoming an officer? You don’t have to list them all, but we would especially like to know the one, or ones, you had immediately before going into the Academy.

Before the Academy I was in the U.S. Army from October 1991 to June 1997. My first enlistment on active duty I was in the infantry and the second enlistment I was a Chinook helicopter mechanic. I then transitioned to the California National Guard from July 1997 until October 1998 where I was also a helicopter mechanic. While waiting for my academy class date I worked for a short time in the maintenance department at a grocery warehouse. Three months prior to my academy start date I was hired as a federal technician rebuilding Blackhawk Helicopters for the National Guard.


5. How did your family, friends, or different groups of friends, react when you were in the selection process and then became an officer? If it was a less than positive reaction, how did you handle it?

Generally my family and friends were very happy for me and my CHP career choice. I do not remember anyone being negative about it. My wife was excited for me and knew it would be the right fit for me.


6. What words of wisdom, if any, did you receive about becoming an officer?

This job is unique because there are a lot of opportunities to experience new things. I was a member of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (now called the Critical Incident Investigation Team). I am a less than lethal shotgun instructor, non lethal training ammunition instructor, child safety seat technician, and an Advance Officer Safety Training associate instructor. During my 13 years of road patrol I transferred to six different offices (East Los Angeles, Indio, Riverside, San Bernardino, Oceanside, and Temecula). In July 2011, I became the Temecula Area’s Public Information Officer (PIO). This has given me opportunities to go to schools ranging from preschool to college and have positive personal interaction with people. Being the PIO has given me the opportunity to promote the CHP and meet with community and elected leaders. It is a nice change of pace to meet with the community when it is not an enforcement contact.

Off duty I still love to get outdoors. I enjoy kayak fishing and we have started a yearly fishing tournament in the San Diego Bay for the Temecula CHP office. Last year the Captain came out and caught a couple fish. I think the fun part is practicing for the tournament. We get together and go kayak fishing whenever we can and we invite friends (retirees, other CHP areas, civilians, and even the sergeants).


7. What are some of the interesting things you’ve done on the job (or off) while on the patrol?

This job is unique because there are a lot of opportunities to experience new things. I was a member of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (now called the Critical Incident Investigation Team). I am a less than lethal shotgun instructor, non lethal training ammunition instructor, child safety seat technician, and an Advance Officer Safety Training associate instructor. During my 13 years of road patrol I transferred to six different offices (East Los Angeles, Indio, Riverside, San Bernardino, Oceanside, and Temecula). In July 2011, I became the Temecula Area’s Public Information Officer (PIO). This has given me opportunities to go to schools ranging from preschool to college and have positive personal interaction with people. Being the PIO has given me the opportunity to promote the CHP and meet with community and elected leaders. It is a nice change of pace to meet with the community when it is not an enforcement contact.

Off duty I still love to get outdoors. I enjoy kayak fishing and we have started a yearly fishing tournament in the San Diego Bay for the Temecula CHP office. Last year the Captain came out and caught a couple fish. I think the fun part is practicing for the tournament. We get together and go kayak fishing whenever we can and we invite friends (retirees, other CHP areas, civilians, and even the sergeants).


8. What words of wisdom (or encouragement) would you like to pass on to possible applicants?

I would first tell applicants not to be discouraged by the wait. I know the process takes a long time, but it is worth it. Be truthful in your application process. Something what seems insignificant to you, might not seem insignificant to your background investigator. Start getting in shape even before you know if you are hired or not.


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