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Shafter PD carrying on with absence of Chief Zimmermann

With the absence of Chief Kevin Zimmermann, who has been on an extended leave, the Shafter Police Department is working as "business as usual," according to Acting Chief Randy Milligan. The department has refused to give details about the leave, citing it as a "personnel matter." The only reason given for the leave that has lasted nearly six weeks is that it is related to a workers compensation claim. City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said that Zimmermann would not elaborate any further.

In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with Milligan and Gonzalez, the two talked about the current state of the department.

Milligan said that there is no timetable on Chief Zimmermann's return but said that the city is in good hands with the staff that the chief has put together.

When asked about the recent defamation of over 50 graves in the Shafter Cemetery, Milligan did say that he would like to clarify initial responses to the incident by the police.

"While it is within a person's right to practice their religion, it is not lawful to defame someone's grave that is not related to you, or is not affiliated with that religion."

Milligan said that there was a case documented and that they would file it as vandalism. "We misspoke on that and would like to clear that up," he said. "The practice of one's religion does not include messing with graves other than your loved ones or those involved in the religion. It is not okay to include persons who you are not affiliated with."

The Shafter police have seen the departure of four officers and two dispatchers who joined the new department in Wasco, including former Shafter Sgt. Lionel Lopez. Milligan said that with the "excellent recruitment" that the department has and the cadets that they have going through the Kern Sheriff's Academy now, the staffing at Shafter will be fine. "We have quite a few new recruits and some cadets who will be finishing the academy soon, so we are in good shape when it comes to staffing," he said.

Milligan also commented on the new substation that will be located in the Gossamer Grove area. "We are on track with the plans for the substation, and by all accounts, we should be able to open the substation by the end of the year."

Milligan, who has been in charge for over a month now, has been with the Shafter force since 2003.

Capt. Milligan was raised in a small town in Kern County. He became a county Sheriff Reserve in 1999, and was hired as an extra help deputy sheriff shortly after. During the off season, as an extra help deputy sheriff, he worked as a Kern County Child Support Investigator and Housing Authority investigator, assigned to the Shafter area, where he realized how much Shafter reminded him of the town he was raised in, with the presence of hometown and community values.

He was hired as a Shafter police officer in June of 2003. He quickly volunteered for the special assignments of traffic officer and police fleet manager. As a fleet manager, he worked diligently to bring the fleet to a professional and functioning level. He soon realized that emergency vehicles were becoming more complex and that a tremendous amount of work was required to get these units service ready. In 2004, he began to standardize the fleet by converting the fleet patrol units back to black and white patrol vehicles, as well as outfitting the fleet with consistent emergency equipment.

In 2004, he became the department's K-9 handler, where he demonstrated how a highly dependable and devoted K-9 program should function. He worked with his partner Dak until Dak's retirement in 2007.

He was selected as officer of the year in 2004 by his peers. He distinguished himself by receiving commendations from the Kern County and Denver Colorado District Attorney Prosecutors for his high quality of arrest and investigations. He has received numerous positive comments from his supervisors regarding his high level of loyalty and dedication.

In 2006, as he advanced in his career, he saw an opportunity to influence the future of the department and became a field training officer. In 2006, he was promoted to a senior patrol officer and in February of 2010 was again promoted to sergeant. In July of 2021 he was promoted to lieutenant; two years later, he was promoted to Captain.

When asked about the recent article in the Shafter Press about the defamation of over 50 graves in the Shafter Cemetery, Milligan did say that he would like to clarify something for the record.

"While it is within a person's right to practice their religion, it is not lawful to defame someone's grave that is not related to you, or is not affiliated with that religion."

Milligan said that there was a case documented and that they would file it as vandalism. "We misspoke on that and would like to clear that up. The practice of one's religion does not include messing with graves other than your loved ones or those involved in the religion. It is not okay to include persons who you are not affiliated with."

 
 

Reader Comments(1)

Rjamcneil writes:

Duh! Did he actually learn the law? His prior statement was idiocy. And he’s in charge? While it is within a person's right to practice their religion, it is not lawful to defame someone's grave that is not related to you, or is not affiliated with that religion. Milligan said that there was a case documented and that they would file it as vandalism. We misspoke on that and would like to clear that up, he said. The practice of one's religion does not include messing with graves other than your loved ones or those involved in the religion. It is not okay to include persons who you are not affiliated with.

 
 
 
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