D. O. "Spike" Helmick is the retired Commisioner of the California Highway Patrol

Spike Helmick, Retired CHP Commissioner

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Driver education has changed since we were children. Many public schools no longer offer driver education or driver training.


CHP’s EVOC facility is not only a training ground for future officers, it is also a model for shared resources in government. Because it is such a unique facility, the CHP is literally inundated with requests from allied law enforcement agencies to conduct training at the facility. But due to limited resources, the CHP can only grant about one in ten requests that come through. Their resources are primarily dedicated to training their own officers. However, when they do bring in members of allied agencies, they usually get nothing but compliments.

“Conducting training with allied agencies can be a lot of fun and a great change of pace,” says one of the instructors . “We almost always get letters from them expressing how impressed they are with the facility. It’s usually something none of them have ever seen or experienced before.”

“This is some of the best training we’ve had,” quipped one deputy from a sheriffs department. “It was a real eye-opener.”

Other agencies, such as the Sacramento Police and Sheriffs departments, bring in their own equipment and instructors to utilize the skidpan and defensive driving network. However, only CHP-trained EVOC instructors can provide training on the high speed course.

CalTrans also utilizes the facility, but not for driver training. Because the course takes up about 225 acres of land, there is a lot of “dead space” in the center of the track. Some of this area is used by CalTrans to test various construction site guardrails and also to create mock freeway construction sites and evaluate them for safety. In some cases, they are attempting to recreate road conditions of an actual accident to determine any potential liability in the incident.

The course is also used by CHP itself for purposes other than training. For one, the CHP EVOC staff is responsible for test driving potential patrol vehicles of the future. When carmakers want to bid for CHP’s business, they put together a police package vehicle that meets CHP specs and then send it to the EVOC facility to be put through the paces. The EVOC staff then provides feedback on what works, what needs adjustment and what doesn’t work.

In addition, because CHP purchases its tires in bulk, they must ensure that the tire they purchase can hold up under the rigors of prolonged, continuous driving. For this reason, the EVOC staff also tests the various tires available to provide information on their durability, wear and other specific factors considered in the purchasing process.

The facility is also used on occasion as a filming venue. Due to the fact it is a self contained and controlled environment, it is ideal for filming high speed vehicle footage. The CHP uses it for it’s own filming purposes, such as recruitment videos and other informational films.

The above includes just a sampling of some of the numerous uses of the CHP EVOC in West Sacramento. First and foremost, it is a training ground for future officers. However, the fact that there are so many other uses for the course speaks to the efficiency of CHP resource utilization.

Law Enforcement Sites

The Official CHP WebSite

The CHP 11-99 Foundation was created to provide benefits to California Highway Patrol employees and their families

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) is a labor association whose primary purpose is to work for the benefit of all California Highway Patrol officers.

Other Sites

Mothers Against Drunk Driving