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Wasco advances plans for Police Department

At Tuesday night's Wasco City Council meeting, more progress was made toward developing the Wasco Police Department, including approval to execute all documents necessary to create a no-profit Police Activity League organization and authorization to finalize the purchase of additional police start-up vehicles.

Currently, the Kern County Sheriff's Department has a nonprofit Sheriff's Activity League located in a city-owned building at 1445 12th St. However, with their departure, the city must establish a nonprofit PAL organization specific to the WPD.

SAL and PAL programs offer a range of activities designed for the youth within a community. These programs foster a positive relationship between young people and law enforcement officers while offering constructive activities during periods that may lack supervision.

City staff have secured grant funding for the refurbishment of the PAL building, and bids for the final rebuild phase of that project are being accepted. To create a new Wasco PAL entity, several steps are required, including the application for a 501(c)(3) tax ID, procuring insurance and getting approval of all relevant agencies.

"Once we are operational, I believe that the second biggest priority that I have is to reinstate youth programs through the PAL program. Our assistant city manager, Maria Lara, worked tirelessly to obtain grant funding for the refurbishing of what was the SAL building and will be working to upgrade the facility and provide youth activities for the children of Wasco," WPD Police Chief Charles Fivecoat said.

In a staff report, Hurlbert said, "The Police Department project has moved forward at an accelerated pace and is expected to be fully operational in April 2024. To ensure all Police Department personnel are properly equipped at start-up, it is prudent to order the additional equipment now to avoid supply chain delays."

The council also approved purchasing three additional police cars for $300,000, which is covered under the startup budget, according to City Manager Scott Hurlbert.

There was a new employee Police Department badge pinning ceremony for police officers Angel Sanchez and Larry Morris. Both have more than two decades of law enforcement experience. Morris comes from Delano department and Sanchez from Shafter..

"It's a good group of people," Morris said. "That's what brought me here."

 

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