The new commander of the California Highway Patrol’s Modesto area office has traded one set of challenges — ice and snow — for another, which includes fog and more than four times the number of collisions.
Capt. Shane Ferriera, a 23-year CHP veteran, started in Modesto on April 1 after two years as lieutenant commander in the Tuolumne County office. He replaces Capt. Julian Irigoyen, who was promoted to the CHP headquarters in Sacramento after serving in Modesto about 2 1/2 years.
Ferriera, who’s from Merced, got his first CHP post in Ventura, where he served about five years and met his wife, Shelly. The couple and their son, Dylan, who turned 12 on Easter Sunday, lived in Merced during Ferriera’s time in Tuolumne County and will remain there for the foreseeable future, the captain said.
“For somebody to promote and still be close to home in our organization doesn’t happen very often,” he said while sitting in his Kiernan Avenue office Monday morning. “I could have gone somewhere like Los Angeles or San Francisco. I’ve been very fortunate to stay close to home, and I’m fortunate to be here” in Modesto.
As Modesto commander, Ferriera oversees the whole 62-person operation, which includes 46 officers on road patrol and 11 on special-duty assignments. The office is one of 18 in the CHP’s Central Division, which runs from the Modesto area south to Fort Tejon. Ferriera reports to the division chief in Fresno, who reports to a deputy commissioner in Sacramento.
All offices abide by the same policies and procedures handed down from headquarters, the commander said, but each is a bit different based on geography and other factors. For instance, he joked that there’s “a little traffic congestion, if you’ve noticed, on Highway 99.”
Also, he said, “We have street racing and sideshows that can be present in Stanislaus County.”
Sideshows are illegal gatherings in which groups of drivers take over intersections, parking lots, streets, bridges and stretches of highways to do tricks with their cars.
“Those are a little more unique here than in maybe a smaller CHP area,” Ferreira said. “We’re one of the busiest offices in the Central Valley ... because of the amount of traffic here. Last year, there were over 3,700 traffic collisions here, and in the area I just came from, Tuolumne County, we had 800.”
Because he worked as a public information officer while working for the CHP’s Merced office, Ferriera said, he knows the benefits of being out in the community and building relationships. He said he will continue to do that in Modesto.
He’s met with Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse and Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll a handful of times just this month, he said. He plans to work closely with his own public information officer, Thomas Olsen, on community events and outreach, like the Start Smart and Every 15 Minutes education programs, serving food at Modesto Gospel Mission and working with Special Olympics.
It’s positive for both the public and his office, he said. “It’s great when people on the other side can see that we’re just real, regular people wearing a uniform.”