To spread awareness on men’s health, such as prostate and testicular cancers, Darren Chamberlain, now Associate Warden at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP), spearheaded the Blue Patch Project. The effort allows CDCR staff to wear blue uniform patches beginning each year on November 1.
Chamberlain has been with CDCR for almost 19 years. After beginning his career at Correctional Training Facility, with stops along the way at Salinas Valley State Prison and Associate Warden at KVSP, giving back is always a priority.
Q: What is the Blue Patch Project?
A: The Blue Patch Project in essence is to bring awareness and support to men’s health issues, primarily in regard to prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention within the law enforcement community. Wearing the blue patch — or lapel pin for non-uniform staff — shows support.
Although the Blue Patch Project began in 2020, the concept and support for this cause began much sooner, by supporting men’s health organizations.
Q: What is your role in this project and why is it important to you?
A: As with all movements, it is a process to initiate, and buy-in is absolutely needed to get it going. My role in this movement is hopefully to just get the ball rolling, and let it take on a life of its own. The idea for the blue patch originally came to mind in 2018 after seeing how well staff supported the Pink Patch Project. In December 2019, I got with Riba Nigh at Custom Pins and Buckles to design a patch.
We wanted a shade of blue different from the standard blue seen on most law enforcement patches, so it would stand out. The shade from the lapel pins already in circulation was a perfect fit. I pitched the idea to my Warden at the time, Craig Koenig, and he was all for it. From there it was just about putting the proposal on paper and submitting it to Associate Director Marion Spearman.
He supported it and pushed it through to Director Connie Gipson, who gave approval on October 28, 2020, allowing staff to wear blue patches during the month of November.
Q: Why is it important for staff members to get involved in this project?
A: Simply to show you care and are there to listen. This isn’t an easy profession, and it isn’t getting any easier. As a peace officer when you wear that blue patch, you are showing your peers you are there for them. I’m quite sure there are many of us in CDCR who have had a friend, partner or colleague stricken by one of these two diseases or lost to suicide; this patch honors their battle or memory.
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