(KTXL) — Since the 1990s, the California Highway Patrol has had a chipmunk patrolling the streets.
The chipmunk goes by Chipper and was introduced as the CHP’s mascot in 1991, 62 years after the CHP was created through California legislature.
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The legislature gave statewide authority to the CHP to enforce traffic laws on county and state highways, which is still the agency’s responsibility today. When the CHP was originally created, it was created as a section of the Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Works, according to the agency.
In 1995, the California State Police and its members and duties merged with the CHP.
Chipper’s duties have included making appearances at various events including being involved in youth programs and services.
The mascot is also used for outreach involving road safety, traffic laws, not driving under the fluence, and designating a sober driver.
Chipper is dressed like any other CHP officer, with a hat and uniform that includes a badge and a nametag that says his name.
Throughout his existence, the CHP chipmunk has also crossed paths with fellow mascots. His encounters have included meeting Los Angeles Rams mascot Rampage, Smokey the Bear, and McGruff, the State Farm bear, and Herky the Hornet, the mascot for Sacramento State athletics.
On the CHP website, Chipper is the main character of a coloring book used to teach children about “positive traffic safety practices.” The coloring book is available in English and Spanish.
Chipper is one of three mascots that are used by agencies in California. The others are Captain Cal from CAL FIRE and the newly unveiled Safety Sam from Caltrans.