Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
California Highway Patrol officer Josh McConnell says that the Madera Division of the CHP covers approximately 1,800 square miles.
Guarding the highways and roadways of Madera County is the California Highway Patrol’s Madera Division, the police for the state.
In charge of approximately 1,800 square miles of road, stretching as far north as the Merced County line, as far west as Firebaugh, east to Millerton Lake, and south to the San Joaquin River, the role of the California Highway Patrol is to provide safety, service and protection to all motorists in their jurisdiction.
Their job is not only to stop speeding motorists or drunk drivers, but also to respond to accidents and seek out those in need of assistance on the road.
“We’re out there to provide the motoring public with the safest mode of travel that we can,” said California Highway Patrol officer Josh McConnell, the spokesman for the Madera Division.
Serving in the California Highway Patrol for 10 years, McConnell was promoted to public information officer a year ago. His job, in addition to releasing information to media, is to work in one of the CHP’s other primary roles- education.
“I try to get our programs out into the community by visiting elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools,” McConnell said. “And I inform them of what programs we offer, and provide them with information that they can make contact and request those programs, or I’ll request to present those programs to them myself.”
These programs include education on safe driving, and the dangers of alcohol on the road, and of texting while driving.
In addition to their officers on the road, they are further assisted by a K-9 unit, as well as aircraft for rescue, and spotting fleeing suspects. Their biggest assistance, however, comes from partnerships in the community they protect.
“With the technology of cell phones out there, we are assisted by the public a great deal,” McConnell said. “Whenever the public is witness to a DUI driver, a collision, an object in the roadway that could potentially cause some hazard, and they’re calling 911, our dispatch center is notifying us, and we’re immediately en route to hopefully prevent damage to property or injury.”
Far from simply being the men who write tickets, the CHP no matter when the incident, or however hazardous, is ready to protect the roads, and all those who travel them.