Three Decades of Service

Sergeant Philip Brooks holds a photo of himself from 32 years ago when he graduated from the academy in 1983.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Philip Brooks, 55, is retiring after 32 years with the department. Having spent the last 15 years at the Malibu/Lost Hills station and being responsible for improving traffic conditions in the area, his main concern for Malibu motorists is for them to “Be safe on PCH.”

Aside from patrolling and improving traffic in Malibu, Brooks was also of great service to those at his station.

“Three and a half years ago I had cancer, and he organized a fundraiser with the Talbert Foundation that helped me out financially during the hardship of my cancer,” said Gloria Ferra, evidence and property custodian at the Malibu/Lost Hills station. “He’s a great, great man. I never thought somebody would do that for me and he really helped me a lot. I wish he wouldn’t go.”

The USC alumni with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering started as a construction supervisor with Bruteco Engineering, bidding and working on Caltrans projects across the state.

“I have a traffic background as an engineer, which actually kind of gave me an advantage because it made it easier for me to plan the traffic for special events and it helped the cities out as far as their needs,” Brooks said.

Brooks, who has planned and built some of the freeways and bridges he patrols says that in Malibu, “it’s unfortunate that people seem to be concerned with collisions that are involving celebrities when people are dying every day.”

Though Brooks may no longer be patrolling, his work as traffic sergeant will go on and continue to benefit the residents of Malibu.

“With a lot of the signals we added — say Corral Canyon — I could help justify the need for it with Caltrans because I had worked with Caltrans,” Brooks shared. “It was easy for me to work with the city and the residents and say ‘Hey, this is why we need this signal here or this is why we need this road improvement.’”

Despite the improvements made during his time with the department, Brooks still thinks that more can be done to lessen the injuries and fatalities on the PCH. Brooks said the majority of collisions in Malibu are due to congestion and he attributes that to the outdated design of the Pacific Coast Highway.

“The most common collision is a rear-end collision,” Brooks said. “You’ll see most of those collisions occur south of Cross Creek on PCH where there’s the most cars and the heaviest congestion and that’s the result of taking a 1946 highway design and trying to incorporate it into 2015.”

With Brooks’ background in civil engineering, experience analyzing collisions and observing traffic trends, he thinks that the PCH can be made safer by making it more like a freeway.

“You have to eliminate the crossing vehicle conflicts, without a median area or a divided highway, like most freeways, which is what essentially PCH is in Malibu, you have vehicles crossing everywhere. Thus, it creates congestion and people stopping and starting all over the place rather than smooth flow.”

Brooks said that motorists can reduce the majority of collisions by getting off their cellphones and focusing their attention on the road. He also added that motorists should be sure to use their turn signal when changing lanes and wear their seatbelts. “‘Be safe on PCH,’ that’s what I like to say for all the Malibu resident,” he said. “And just calm down, relax and you’ll get there eventually, just take your time.”

“I had an instance where I gave someone a seatbelt ticket and a couple years later they got in a serious auto accident but they survived because they were wearing their seatbelt,” Brooks recalled. “It’s nice to know that you’ve actually made a difference in some people’s lives over the years just doing your routine job.”

Coworkers at the station say they will miss having him around.

“He is a pleasure to work with in every aspect,” said Deputy John Peck, who has worked with Brooks for the last 15 years. “He’s intelligent, but very humble about it. Always has a good attitude. Great sense of humor.”

With only a couple of days left on patrol, Brooks joked that when he retires he is going to spend his time sitting in a lawn chair in a bathrobe in his front yard yelling at speeding cars passing by.

“I’m going to take some time off and do some traveling. My wife has an extensive list of home projects for me, I think that’s up to three pages,” he said with a laugh. “I have kids starting college. I have six children, two of which are still at home, and two grandchildren so I assume they’ll be keeping me busy for a while.”