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In Their Own Words

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Officer Tamara McCormack
Graduated from the Academy in 2008

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.

I first thought about becoming a CHP Officer while I was working as a Corrections Officer for the Lake County Sheriff's Department. I had been working for the Sheriff's Department for approximately two years and had aspirations to transfer to the field. I researched several different departments and came to the conclusion that the CHP had better retirement and salary, had just as many if not more specialized units, gave the opportunity to work anywhere in the state and seemed to have happier employees.

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

The hiring process was what I had expected but the academy training was something I was not prepared for. I was a single parent with two children, ages 5 and 8, when I entered the academy. The time away from the family and the stress of performing to the high standards of the CHP was without a doubt the most difficult thing I have experienced.

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

In high school I maintained a 3.8 GPA while playing Volleyball, Basketball and Softball. I was a member of the Student Council and I was in honors English and Math. I was MVP of the volleyball team and my softball team went to state all four years I played. I was friends with all the different "groups" in school and spent my lunch time mingling with everyone.

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.

Because I was a single parent, I had three jobs before becoming a CHP officer. Just before entering the academy I was a correctional officer, while also being a waitress while also working at the local race track. Before being a correctional officer, I was an escrow officer while also waitressing and bartending. I have also been a bank teller and I was in the U.S. Navy.

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?

Most of my friends were excited and supportive when I was selected to be an officer. Even my friends that were not exactly law abiding, were still happy for me. My family was very proud and encouraging. After becoming an officer and being away from home for five years, some of my friends and family have not stayed as supportive and wish I could come home.

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

When I entered the academy my friends and family members that were CHP officers said whatever you do, do not quit and do not give up, it will all be worth it in the end (and they were right!). After becoming an officer and being sent to Central Los Angeles, the same people said, stay there as long as you can. Five years working in Central Los Angeles is like 10 years in a Northern California office. They said, "have fun, learn lots and be nice to people until they give you a reason not be."

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

Since I have been a member of the department I have been involved in many different things. I was an Accident Investigation Officer, a Recruitment Officer, was able to be a part of the Public Information Officer's events, and am an Officer Safety Training Instructor. I have done everything from writing tickets, taking crashes, arresting DUI drivers, delivering death notifications to passing out toys to kids at Christmas. My work also included instructing and certifying officers in Officer Safety Techniques and Physical Methods of Arrest.

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

The only words of wisdom I would pass on to applicants is if you want it, you have to work for it. The application process is strenuous, the academy is extremely hard but it is all worth it. We are not going to hand this job to you, if you want this job you need to put in the effort to get this job. Like my mentors told me, don't quit and don't ever give up!

Stay focused, don't take short cuts, be a person of integrity, and never allow compromise in your life on or off.

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For additional information, contact the CHP at: 1-888-4A CHP JOB
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For questions about the Recruiting Process, speak with a Recruiter by calling (888) 422-4756.