Police Dept. moves ahead
New hires, revitalizing programs
September 19, 2019
The Shafter Police Department is seeing some of long-term goals come to fruition.
Chief Kevin Zimmermann said he has had some goals ever since he walked in the door to take over his position.
"I had ideas and goals when I first arrived. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a little time to have those ideas become reality."
The Shafter City Council recently approved four new hires, including a community development officer and a dedicated traffic officer. The first year, one-time expense was about $750,000 and a commitment of about $390,000 for the salaries of the additions.
The dedicated traffic officer will be specially trained as an expert when it comes to traffic laws, procedures and preventative tactics. "I want to say that all of our officers will still be working traffic, enforcing the traffic laws of the city and helping keep the streets safe. The new officer will have the additional training to take charge in cases of accidents and other situations that will require specialized knowledge in the area."
"I wanted to get a lot of the programs that were dormant when I arrived, like the PAL program and the Citizens Patrol Unit. These are programs that allow the department to connect with the community on a personal level."
The dedicated community relations officer will be heading up the effort to renew the programs that have not been utilized in recent years. One such program is the Police Athletic League. The PAL program helps young people in Shafter by engaging them in different activities to assist them in their every day lives.
The main goal of PAL is to provide quality activities for the youth of the community, as well as to provide focus and direction to help them become responsible citizens. They also help establish positive relationships between youth, police and the community. PAL accomplishes this by providing a common meeting ground for police, citizens, and youth in the areas of athletics, education and recreational activities. PAL will provide children with a safe, supervised place to gather and interact for sporting events and other enriching youth activities.
"These programs will go a long way in bettering the relationship between the department and the community," Zimmermann said.
Another one of his duties, according to Zimmermann, is to keep the department's presence known in the social media sphere. "Everyone has their foot in the social media world. The Shafter Police Department is looking to continue connecting with the community in our Facebook page, the City of Shafter's Facebook and other social media tools."
Zimmerman said the department is fortunate to have a City Council that supports their vision and their desire to protect the city with all of the tools available to them. "We are in the enviable position of having the officers and department that can serve the entire community. In some communities, calls are prioritized, and some might not get the attention that the caller might want. In Shafter, no matter what the call is, it will be responded to. We serve the entire community in any way we can."
To further that connection with the community, the Shafter Police Department is holding a Night Out with the Police Department at Veterans Park on Monday, Oct. 28, beginning at 5 p.m. The event will have several law enforcement and emergency responder agencies there, including the Kern County Fire Department and possibly Hall Ambulance. They will have a large number of Child ID kits available that parents can use to get their children registered with the Shafter Police Department. "The kits have a copy of the child's fingerprints, a picture and personal information that will be useful if – God forbid – an emergency happens, making this information useful to our agency in the case," said Zimmermann.
All of these efforts to keep the department current has produced positive results, Zimmerman said. He noted that the search website background.com recently named Shafter the safest community in Kern County.