Special to the Post
When you mention the California Highway Patrol (CHP), most people either think about episodes of the television series CHiPs from the 1980s or patrol duties on freeways.
As California’s state police force, the CHP patrols all freeways, roadways in unincorporated communities, state properties and bridges. The CHP’s motto is “Safety, Service and Security” providing these features through education and enforcement.
In order to accomplish its mission, CHP personnel are committed to our organizational values of respect for others, fairness, ethical practices, and equitable treatment for all who they serve.
The CHP’s Golden Gate Division is responsible for the nine-county Bay Area, and is led by Chief Paul Fontana. Chief Fontana has served in the Bay Area for nearly his entire career and has close ties with the Oakland Area. With a diverse CHP workforce in the Bay Area, serving in the highest ranks of the Oakland CHP Office are three women who are rooted in the Bay Area.
Overseeing the Oakland CHP Office is Captain BJ Whitten, who has served in the CHP for over 27 years, mostly the Oakland Area.
Captain Whitten She was assigned to Oakland in 1988 and served there as an officer, sergeant, and lieutenant before assuming command in 2013. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and was selected as the 2009 Women’s Peace Officer Association Professional of the Year.
Captain Whitten remains certified as a Drug Recognition Expert finding time to go out on patrol.
Serving alongside Captain Whitten is Administrative Lieutenant Meg Planka, who grew up in the South Bay, attending UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. She has served in the CHP for 27 years in various roles including as an academy instructor, background investigator, and canine unit supervisor with most of her career based in the Bay Area.
Lieutenant Planka is married and has two daughters.
Lieutenant Sunshine Garside serves as the supervisor for Field Operations. She has served the CHP for 17 years, much of it in the Bay Area. With a history of CHP in her family, her career was inspired by her uncle and husband, who both served as CHP officers.
She is married with one son and is active in her church, teaching bible study to the youth of the community.
According CHP, its personnel are paramount assets and through them the CHP strives for excellence and professionalism.
The CHP is developing proactive community-based strategies in order to promote and support safe, vital, and healthy communities.