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Highway Patrol Names New Chief Information Officer

Chief Ray Diggins, a 27-year veteran of the department, succeeds the acting CIO, Assistant Chief April Baxter, who held that role since November. The previous CIO, Chris Childs, has been promoted to assistant CHP commissioner for staff.

The California Highway Patrol has named a new chief information officer to oversee technology for the state agency.

Chief Ray Diggins, a 27-year member of the CHP, has a background that includes patrol, community outreach and management. He was promoted to one of the Patrol’s 16 chief positions when he assumed his new role on Jan. 3. Before this assignment, he was an assistant chief in the CHP’s Border Division, encompassing San Diego and Orange County. He’ll be relocating to Sacramento with his family, he said.

Diggins said he wouldn’t describe himself as a tech expert, but he told Techwire in an interview Friday that his years in patrol give him a good insight into how technology can help officers in the field.

“The patrol officers are the end users, but our customers are the residents of California,” he said.

Diggins said he’s been doing a lot of reading and research to prepare for his current role.

The CIO oversees CHP’s Information Management Division (IMD), which includes the department’s telecom operations — communications for all CHP commands, CHP’s mobile fleet and 24 communications centers statewide. The CIO also directs CHP’s Computer Crimes Investigations Unit, which investigates computer crimes involving state IT resources.

CHP has an annual technology budget of about $100 million, which includes telecom, video cameras and computers in patrol vehicles. Diggins has about 360 people working under him in the IMD.

“In a unit like this, where there’s such a steep learning curve, I definitely want to get to know all of the players,” Diggins said, “especially the external stakeholders and all of the state agencies, working with the peer CIOs, and being a good team member and making sure we’re working together and collaborating with all the state agencies for success.”

The department has had an acting CIO, Assistant Chief April Baxter, since November, when former CIO Chris Childs, who had held that role for 16 months, was promoted from chief to assistant commissioner for staff.

Childs’ award-winning predecessor was longtime CIO Scott Howland, a well-known participant and speaker at tech industry forums and conferences. Howland entered the private sector in September 2020 after retiring from his 30-year career with CHP. He is now public safety director for Fusus.
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.