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Wasco council hosts badge pinning for new police hires

The Wasco City Council on Tuesday hosted a badge pinning ceremony to welcome four new hires to the soon-to-be-established Wasco Police Department. The significant gathering exemplified a commitment by leadership to enhance public safety and ensure the growth and security of the city.

The honorees were Alecio Mora, lieutenant; Lionel Lopez Jr., sergeant; Maira Puente, sergeant; and Erika Morris, senior dispatcher.

At the event, community members, city officials, friends and family of the new recruits were there to support them, creating an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation as the city takes steps to bolster its safety measures and build a strong police force.

"I feel really excited about being one of the first to join the new police department, the newest in California. It's a historical event, for sure," Morris said,

She will oversee all of the dispatchers in the communications center.

"I am happy and very proud that he returned to work for his hometown." said Lopez, will bring to the sergeant role 32 years of law enforcement experience.

"I look forward to working with Chief Charlie Fivecoat, since I've known him since I worked for the Shafter Police Department."

Chief Fivecoat added, "It's a special evening for me. I have one of the finest supervisory teams I could ever hope to have."

Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains and Jannett Tapia, district representative from Senator Melissa Hurtado's office, presented the recruits with certificates of recognition.

Also at the meeting, the council approved $340,000 for the purchase of 45 street lights as part of the Downtown Renovation Project. The purchase of the streetlights will leave approximately $6.2 million in the project budget.

"This project includes improvements of streets, sidewalks and alleys along 7th Street from G Street to D Street. New landscaping, lighting and public art installations are all included. Improvements to the city park located at Highway 43 (F Street) and 7th Street will also be completed."

The lights will be double-sided, facing pedestrian walkways and the other side will face the street.

Public Works Director Luis Villa said, "It serves a dual purpose to impact safety with brighter lights."

In other action, the council used a proclamation to celebrate the work that the North Kern Chapter of the Lideres Campesinas has carried out in the community for the last 30 years to empower and help all women, especially farmworkers who are victims of domestic violence, with a special highlight recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"We feel very grateful about this now that our major objective is to be there for women experiencing domestic violence," organizer Yesenia Acosta said.

She thanked the members of the Lideres Campesinas committee for serving as volunteers. Acosta added that if someone suffers from domestic abuse, they can call their 24/7 hotline, 661-438-6254. "It is a resource for women in need."

The council also accepted a $501,478 tobacco grant to hire a police officer for 36 months to assist in curbing the illegal sale and marketing of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors and youth.

The state makes these funds available to local law enforcement agencies annually through the California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program.

The officer assigned will coordinate with other regional agencies on enforcement, investigation and proactive education of retailers and Wasco city youth.

"Tobacco products, particularly those marketed directly to children, are a serious health threat to our youth." Hurlbert said, "The addictive nature of these products leads to long-term habits which impact individuals for a lifetime."

He added that illegal tobacco sales are a widespread problem, and there have been cases of these violations locally.


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