The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Police making history with new displays

Past chiefs, families build new displays


February 21, 2019 | View PDF

Courtesy Shafter Police Department

The Shafter Police Department Honor Guard with their patches replicating those from the 1930s.

The Shafter Police Department is steeped in history, dating back to the 1930s. For a department that has been around for so long, there was no presentation of that history until recently.

Chief Keith Zimmermann took over the department two years ago, coming from the Kern County Sheriff's Department after 26 years. One project in his first year in Shafter was the creation of the Shafter Police Department Historical Committee. The group began collecting artifacts from throughout the decades of the department's existence.

"I was surprised that Shafter didn't have any sort of display or record of the rich history of this department," commented Zimmermann. "I decided that this would be a great project to document the history of the department and put this history on display."

One of the first projects taken on by the committee was the Shafter Police Uniform Patch Project. Their research found the existence of three different uniform patches over the years. They used that information to commission the re-creation of the first two iterations of the patch.

Chief Zimmermann gifted each SPD employee with both patches in an effort to stimulate some esprit de corps and appreciation for unit history. To further that concept, he also approved the use of the second patch for the newly created Shafter Police Department Honor Guard Team.

The committee is also actively building an accurate and chronological list of the various Shafter chiefs of police. The committee has contacted and had communications with nine of the 14 known chiefs and their families. It was through these communications that the committee received the first donations of equipment, pictures and other items.

For example, Bob Krause, son of Shafter's second chief, John Reily (1941-1958), donated Chief Reily's pistol, his duty police belt and handcuffs; his badges; and a host of other items. Ron Witcher and Carol Arldt, the children of Shafter's third chief, Hanley Witcher (1958-1974), donated several pictures, certificates and an adding machine from that period.

The committee has also made positive contact with the family members of former Chief Bob Nixon (1974-1978), Frank Christensen (1983-1989), John Zrofsky (1998-2006) and Charlie Fivecoat (2006-2011).

Courtesy Shafter Police Department

This Colt handgun was one of the earliest weapons used by the department.

Former officers and their families have donated items that make up the collection. One such family is that of Glen Holt. Holt was a sergeant with the department over 40 years ago. Glen was the brother of local business owner James Holt. The Holt family donated Glen's badge and other memorabilia.

Captain Diane Barnett said that the committee is still looking for more articles to add to their collection. "I think it is very nice to have this display of the history of the Shafter Police Department. We have had such a wonderful group of people who have worked for the department and it is great to see them recognized."

The group now has the collection set up in large display cases, with presentations depicting the different equipment that has been used, badges that were worn and pictures of members of the department through the years.


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