Homer Garrott blazed a trail for the CHP
The California Highway Patrol is the fine organization it is because of those who blazed the trail before us. One of those CHP Pioneers is Homer Garrott. While a diversified group of CHP officers is obviously normal in today’s world, it was not always that way.
In 1942, Homer Garrott passed all the entrance exams and became the first African-American patrolman in CHP history. Once on the patrol, his reception by the community and his peers was not always cordial. A southern California newspaper printed a petition to have him fired or removed from his position because of his race. He persevered and patrolled on his motorcycle by day. In his off duty time, he attended Southwestern University School of Law, becoming a lawyer in 1960.
He eventually left the CHP and went to work in the Los Angeles court system. He was a public defender and juvenile court referee and served as a traffic commissioner before Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him Judge for the Compton Municipal Court in 1973. Judge Garrott retired in 1984, but remained active in the community until his death in 1998. As his struggle became more appreciated over time, he achieved a near celebrity status by CHP officers.
The CHP Museum has a display in his memory that includes several photos, the offensive newspaper petition, and a rifle and handgun owned by him. The revolver has a custom grip that reflects the stature of a man who was a CHP giant.