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New CHP commander for local office

February 27, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The California Highway Patrol's El Centro station has come under the command of Capt. Teresa Sumprer, the first woman to take the reins of the local office.

Sumprer took command of the local office after a 19-year career with the Highway Patrol.

While she has been stationed in larger metropolitan areas, Sumprer said the move to the Valley brings her back to her rural roots.

The 42-year-old Sumprer was raised on a dairy farm in the rural community of Placerville in El Dorado County northeast of Sacramento. Her father was a dairy farmer.

She said it was while helping her father on the farm that her career in law enforcement was launched.

She was helping load bales of hay onto a truck belonging to a friend of her father's. That friend, a Highway Patrol officer, saw her loading the hay bales and asked her if she would be interested in becoming an officer.

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In 1983 she did just that.

Sumprer became a sergeant in 1990, a lieutenant in 1996 and on Jan. 31 was promoted to captain and assigned to the El Centro station.

She said taking command of the station has allowed her to focus on providing law enforcement services to a community. Before her assignment to El Centro, Sumprer commanded a Highway Patrol communication center in San Diego.

She said being commander in El Centro will allow her to have the kind of interaction with the community that she trained for as an officer.

"It's good to get back to what you started out to do," Sumprer said.

She added she is looking forward to serving the Imperial Valley and learning the issues that need to be addressed to protect lives on the roadways.

She said the key issue is reducing the number of accidents that lead to injury and death. She referred to the number of fatal accidents as the mileage death rate.

"You want to reduce that to zero," she said of the rate.

Sumprer said she still is in the process of learning about the community and the unique issues that must be dealt with to make the roadways safer.

However, she said one focus she will have as commander is educating the public on traffic safety, particularly the use of child safety seats to protect children.

She added she wants the community to know the Highway Patrol is open for concerns of questions.

"We are a public service agency. If there are things they feel we need to address, they can contact us."

Sumprer, the mother of children ages 5 and 7, takes over an office of 35 officers. She said the El Centro station has a strong squad ready to serve the community.

She said the community has been friendly in welcoming her to the area.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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