MERCED -- The 2010 calendar in Phillip Waring Riggins' office features a special handwritten notation for June 16. It reads "30th Year -- I Can't Believe It."
The note is written in small letters, but its significance is greater.
After all, there's no telling how many lives Riggins, 58, saved during his 30 years as an officer with the California Highway Patrol.
Whether it's been taking a drunken driver into custody, showing a mother how to properly install a child safety seat or helping someone after a car accident, Riggins' efforts may have meant the difference between life and death for many.
After three decades of serving the community, Riggins will trade his badge and service weapon for a new life as a retiree at the end of the month.
Born in Fresno, Riggins' first day as a CHP officer was June 16, 1980. He spent his first three years on the graveyard shift in the Newhall and Santa Clarita area in Southern California, rolling along the highways in a Dodge 440 patrol car.
He remembers the exhilaration of being a new recruit.
"I can remember driving down Interstate 5 and just the feeling you got," Riggins said. "This is your office that you're driving. It's a feeling that not too many people get."
Riggins then moved to Merced, reasoning that it was a good place to raise a family. He and his wife, Violet, have two sons: Anthony Jones Riggins, 39, and Phillip Riggins Jr., 29.
In addition to being a patrolman, Riggins has been an instructor in physical methods of arrest and a technician for the child safety seat program.
For 14 years, Riggins has been the watch officer at the CHP's Merced area office, which entails responding to questions from the public.
In 1992, Riggins was named officer of the year.
Riggins' co-workers said his boots will be tough to fill. Sgt. Glin Lamerson, who's worked with Riggins since 1995, said he has been a model for others in the department, particularly younger officers.
"I look up to Phil as a peer. And even though I am his supervisor, I still look to him as a very valuable and trustworthy friend," Lamerson said.