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Rocklin man retires from CHP as son graduates from academy

By: Susan Belknap, Placer Herald Editor
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It’s all in the family at the Stahr home. After 30 years on the road as a California Highway Patrolman, Rocklin resident Terry Stahr retired from the force on Dec. 31, while son John has just a few weeks left at the CHP academy in West Sacramento until his career in the same organization will begin. “I always wanted John to be a firefighter,” Terry said. “At least when you’re a firefighter you know what you’re getting into. But with the CHP you never know from call to call. There are so many surprises.” But for son John, there was never a doubt what type of career he would undertake. “Most of my life I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” John said. “I would love to hear all his stories when I was growing up. It never scared me. It just made me want to do it.” As for the stories, some are good, others not so much. “The hardest part was having to see people die needlessly,” Terry said. “That just wears on you.” Terry began his career with the CHP in Los Angeles before he ended up in the Hayward, Contra Costa region and north Sacramento area. Many of his years on the road were spent on a motorcycle, which Terry said is “as exciting as it gets.” For the last 10 years he’s been on the force, patrolling in a car around Auburn where he’s a commercial officer dealing with big rig inspections and violations. “As I got older, I wanted a change of pace,” Terry said. “I wanted to go to Auburn where things were a bit quieter.” Yet, on a “normal” day Terry said issuing 10-12 citations was not unusual. “There was always a lot of tailgating, log book compliance issues and speeding,” he said. “Speeding was the worst. Many truckers think that because they sit up higher, they can see better and can go faster.” During his career, Terry said most people were pleasant. Although he does recall a trucker going 94 mph up the hill out of Auburn who said he thought he was being followed. “He just wouldn’t yield,” Terry said. “He ended up going to jail.” Throughout it all, Terry admits he was not afraid. He always had a gun and knew how to anticipate almost any type of situation. “There was danger,” Terry said. “I’ve had a few accidents. I’ve had people hit me and I’ve had minor injuries.” While he may not be on the road any longer, Terry is planning to stay in the field somewhat by working for the state of California in the office of Risk and Insurance Management. He’ll be teaching people who work for the state in a classroom setting about keeping their driving safe. Terry’s advice to anyone on the road is to slow down. “Most people go 10 to 15 miles over the speed limit on a regular basis,” he said. John will have many years to go before gaining seniority to work in an area such as Auburn. He’s happy his training at the academy is almost complete, as the 27-week course has been challenging. “We started with 239 cadets and we’re down to 178,” John said. The training has been rigorous both mentally and physically. “It’s much harder than I ever thought,” John said. “It’s very military-like and I wasn’t used to that. I went from living at home to living at the academy from Sunday through Friday each week. The academics are especially hard. There’s so much to learn with all the codes and health and safety laws.” On a physical level, John said training has included learning how to drive at high speeds on specially designed courses set up at the academy. “We’re up to 100 mph on those courses,” he said. He begins his first assignment in just a few weeks in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles where he’ll train for three months with seasoned officers. “I’m excited to go and get on the road,” John said. Even though Terry admits he’d rather have his son learn a safer career, he’s proud John will continue the family tradition of law enforcement. “It’s what he chose to do. I’m honored,” he said. “I don’t worry about him because I know he can handle it.”