SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the sun sets on Thanksgiving—the work is just beginning for California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers working through the holiday.
The law enforcement agency tasked with safeguarding our roadways during the year's busiest days of travel is operating at "maximum enforcement."
Statewide policy means every CHP office will maximize the number of officers working, lasting through the weekend until Sunday evening.
"About 80-percent of the available officers are all working the beat right now," said Sergeant Jeff Carlisle of the North Sacramento unit.
While the day remained relatively slow, ABC10 rode along Carlisle and found the evening hours continued to grow busier and busier.
During our hour and a half with him, we witnessed him doing the following:
- Pulling over a speeding car
- Helping a driver with a flat tire on the side of the highway
- Calling a concerned citizen who reported a DUI back
- Assisting an officer during a difficult encounter
After he dropped our crew off, Carlisle said he immediately arrested a suspected intoxicated driver, found another officer made a separate arrest and a pedestrian was fatally struck and killed in a collision.
"Just in the past 15-20 minutes I've already heard a common uptick of DUI drivers," Carlisle said as dispatch continued to update him on his officers' whereabouts.
It makes sense, as many take to the road after eating and drinking in the afternoon.
"Compared to other holidays, Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas holidays, the DUI mayhem is going to pick up earlier in the evening than it would for New Year's Eve," Carlisle said.
While DUI enforcement is at the top of their list, Carlisle said their other priorities include helping with break downs, speed and seat-belt enforcement.
It's all in an effort to help protect the many drivers and passengers on the roads. For Thanksgiving 2022, AAA predicted 54.6 million people traveled 50 miles or more from home.
That's why CHP officers are out in force.
"Not just how many officers are out there, but let's place them strategically in areas where they're going to be efficient with our resources and do the best good they can," Carlisle said.
A lot of work for a simple goal—"Getting drivers safely from point A to point B," he said
Carlisle has been doing this work for 20 years, but even as he works on Thanksgiving, he's grateful.
"For the most part as I get closer and closer to my retirement, I'll look back and think of the times that I was able to be in a position to help people."