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Auburn Journal Editorial

Our View: Rewards few for job that means much

By: Journal Staff
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This week’s chance for retired California Highway Patrol officers to visit the Newcastle office and share some barbecue and camaraderie brought together veterans of a force on our Placer County roads that have earned far too little appreciation for the job they have done – and the burdens that came with it.

Think of it. Thousands of days and nights patrolling roads, never knowing when the next dispatch message will send them out to a grinding scene of death and pain.

But time after time, the officers of the Highway Patrol do just that to bring some semblance of order in the chaos that are the seconds and minutes after metal crashes into metal at horrific, deadly speeds.

Many of the retirees were on patrol in the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s, when the carnage on the roads was much higher than it is today. They would see families destroyed along Interstate 80 or its predecessor, Highway 40.

There were losses on the enforcement side too, in crashes and in deadly traffic stops. A memorial to the Auburn detachment’s Officer Raymond Carpenter, who was gunned down in the line of duty in 1970, is out front the Newcastle office.  

And then there was the consternation of knowing that someone got behind the wheel of a vehicle when they had been drinking or were tired, took lives, but walked away unscathed from the crash and, later, were freed after a jail sentence that could never make up for the shattered lives left behind.

In the face of the horror they could witness on any given day, officers would get up the next day, shake off the memories as best they could and go to work again protecting the public and making the roads safer.

The whole issue of PTSD was in its infancy then. Most times, officers  would just “tough it out.”

The imprint on the lives of those retired officers from their Highway Patrol days are lasting ones.

Our hope is that they truly realize the debt we all owe to them for taking on a demanding, sometimes thankless task, and the heartfelt thanks that they all deserve.