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Retired CHP officer given new badge after Tubbs fire destroyed the original

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A retired Santa Rosa CHP officer whose badge was destroyed during the 2017 Tubbs fire was gifted with a replacement Thursday morning, restoring a symbol of his 25-year career on patrol.

Santa Rosa CHP Commander Aristotle Wolfe presented the former patrolman, Jim Emmons, 92, with the badge during an informal ceremony at the agency’s Rohnert Park office, where more than a dozen officers from the local unit gathered to witness the exchange.

Emmons, a longtime Sonoma County resident, received the original badge in 1957 after his graduation from the CHP Academy. His first assignments took him to Compton and Orange County, where he worked in a patrol car and on a motorcycle, and he was transferred to the Santa Rosa-area unit in 1972.

Emmons retired about a decade after his move to Northern California, taking the badge with him. He lost the relic in the 2017 firestorm that demolished his Riebli Road-area home northwest of Santa Rosa.

He began the process of applying for a new badge about 1½ years ago and was notified that he would get it at no cost to him about a year later, when an officer from the local unit called him with the news, Emmons said.

“This is a treasure for me,” Emmons told the group gathered Thursday.

Emmons also received a copy of the acceptance letter sent to officers in his class at the CHP Academy, a roster of his class’s graduates and their first assignments, and a keepsake box for his badge constructed by a sergeant with the Santa Rosa unit, among other items.

The badge was purchased for Emmons using funds from the unit’s Squad Club, an officer-run nonprofit that raises money for local causes and equipment not covered by the state.

“When you lose your badge, it’s significant,” said Wolfe, the CHP commander, after the gathering. “It’s a small gesture, but the small ones matter.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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