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Wasco Police Department takes over

In a landmark event for the city, the new Wasco Police Department launched on Thursday, April 18, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and handing off of the police services building key, marking the end of the Kern County Sheriff's public safety responsibilities to Wasco. It was a monumental event long anticipated by the community, bringing much excitement and hope for the future.

It milestone was at 11 a.m. "That was when we started transferring the 911 responsibilities from the sheriff's communication center in Bakersfield to our new police dispatch center. We transferred 911 circuits and assumed full responsibility for law enforcement services in Wasco," Chief of Police Charles Fivecoat said. "At that point, Wasco Police Department took over."

He said it was a smooth transition. "As expected, we had several minor technical glitches, but we managed to fix each one that occurred."

Jessica Anguiano, a dispatcher, described the atmosphere on launch day. "It was amazing. Everybody gets along so well already; it feels like home and family. It's hard to find that in a workplace."

She said the first day went really well. "It was nice to see everyone smiling. The systems went as good as anticipated. It was nice to have the calls coming in and to know we were there to help. I'm excited that we are now open and can start building the community and make them feel safe."

It was a little busy, but she said the dispatch team handled the influx of calls with coordination. "Once people knew we were open, they started calling in and coming into the front desk for help and because of the experience everyone had, it was natural to manage."

Anguiano added that the day was unforgettable. "The ribbon cutting, handing over the keys and our first live phone calls will never be forgotten. It was something so honorable to be a part of something brand new."

Chief Fivecoat said of the dispatcher's performance, "It was busy, but it was so amazing. All our dispatchers are trained, and they started the job knowing what needed to be done. They are very professional and just immediately took over."

Police Officer Agustine Uribe said of his first day. "I couldn't have asked for a better first day as an agency and as an officer. It was rewarding to finally patrol the city and respond to calls. It was steady throughout the whole shift, and I was able to assist my partners when they were dispatched to other calls as well."

He recalled a memorable event in the day that stood out for him: "I took a call involving a minor at a school. As I gathered the details of the incidents, the victim's mother told me, "I'm putting faith in you to bring justice to my daughter."

Looking ahead, his hopes are to "build a stronger relationship with the community as a department and show the citizens that we are there to serve them and that anytime they call, we will show up."

Police Officer Javier Sanchez similarly expressed that his first day went great. "The community was very receptive. It was great meeting new people, talking to the residents and finally being able to serve them."

He thinks the department was well received by the community. "Throughout the day, the goal was to show our presence and let the community know that we were in service, which was successful. The people would wave at us as we drove by, and others would stop us to congratulate us for this establishment. I felt fulfilled after months of waiting for this day."

Chief Fivecoat said the officers did an excellent job while on patrol. "I'm extremely pleased with the way they've accepted the vision for this Police Department by treating all of our citizens with respect."

Establishing a new department was remarkable because, "We were able to build an entire police department organization, including a 911 dispatch center, in 15 months."

On the horizon for him is, "to continue the partnership with the community, to institute youth activity programs and to hopefully build a new police station."

City Manager Scott Hurlbert commented on the launch. "The citizens of Wasco have long asked for a return to a local police force. Today marks that day."

He said it has been a long road. "The 43-year relationship with the Kern County Sheriff's office has been beneficial, but the advantages of a local Police Department are many."

It was meant to happen. "As the chief and I have said before, the help from local agencies, citizens and even complete strangers has been an important factor in making this effort successful. We are both certain this is more than luck or coincidence."

The list is long to thank. "And still growing. The city plans to have a formal event soon where we can all celebrate the department and recognize everyone who contributed."

 

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