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BPD addresses rising number of pedestrian fatalities in Bakersfield

At the recent Bakersfield City Budget Meeting, Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry presented some of the department's ideas on how to reduce pedestrian versus vehicle crashes.
Posted: 8:38 PM, May 09, 2023
Updated: 2023-05-10 00:32:41-04
pedestrians (file)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The City of Bakersfield held its regular budget meeting recently. At that meeting, the Bakersfield Police Department addressed the increasing number of vehicle versus pedestrian crashes. BPD says they have been looking for solutions on this matter, and they have at least one promising idea in mind.

According to BPD, there has been a significant increase in pedestrian versus vehicle collisions, with 45 reported deadly crashes involving 24 pedestrians in 2020 to 65 reported deadly crashes involving 33 pedestrians in 2022.

BPD says they are already thinking of ways to resolve this issue.

"We are right now researching and developing - looking at what other agencies are doing and developing what a position like that might look like," said Bakersfield Chief of Police Greg Terry when Vice Mayor Andrae Gonzales asked about the possibility of BPD launching a community service officer program.

Terry says BPD is starting to look into hiring retired annuitants. According to the Social Security Administration, an annuitant is defined as a former participant in a public retirement system who is rehired, either by the same public employer or by a different public employer that maintains positions under the same retirement system.

Chief Terry says this system will work in conjunction with current officers to help those officers to focus on other things.

"To bring in a retired annuitant back into the department for utilize the for the red flex, the traffic citations, so that the officers that are doing that right now can go back into the field and continue the type of work that traffic officers do," said Terry.

During the meeting, Vice Mayor and Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales mentioned that Bakersfield was about 100 officers below average when compared to the top 20 cities in California. He said there are about 49 vacancies with BPD right now, and says the lack of officers contributes greatly to the lack of enforcement in the city.

It was determined that speeding, running red lights, pedestrians voluntarily walking in the roadways, and drivers who are under the influence were the 4 main factors in these accidents. Terry said citations can be given out to temporarily combat the issue, but the lack of officers makes it harder to handle.

According to Terry, those retired workers, the annuitants, could be the key to significantly decreasing pedestrian-involved crashes.

"Certainly speeding is something that we monitor across the city, and certainly respond to a lot of different types of complaints, and we can certainly impact that through citations, but it is occurring much more frequently than we have the resources to do," said Terry.

Terry did acknowledge that a lot of the pedestrians being hit are unhoused people. He says that in addition to trying to recruit retired annuitants, BPD is also working with Kern Behavioral Health to engage with those individuals in order to contact and deliver services to them.


During their budget presentation to the Bakersfield City Council, the Bakersfield Police Department shared how they're implementing new ways of handling emergency calls from the public which they hope will help better address the mental health needs of the community.

BPD Chief Greg Terry said the department's new mental health call diversion program, which began last year, has been very successful. The program allows emergency calls that center around mental health issues to be diverted to a trained and qualified mental health specialist affiliated with Kern Behavioral Health.

In 2022, 590 of the calls forwarded to the mental health call team were successfully handled by a health care clinician. This represents a 79 percent success rate. In March of 2023, the team successfully addressed nearly 90 percent of the calls diverted to them.

Currently, BPD has 2 clinicians handling mental health-related calls. Chief Terry says the department would eventually like to increase the number of clinicians to 5.