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CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Wasco Police takes over for KCSO Thursday

Wasco Police Car
Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 17, 2024

WASCO, Calif. (KERO) — On April 18, the Wasco Police Department will make history starting the department's first city patrols since 1981. 23ABC spoke with members of the department on Wednesday to get their reaction.

  • In October of 2022, the Wasco City Council voted to bring back a police department to the city, four decades after disbanding the department and contracting the Kern County Sheriff's Office to take over law enforcement duties inside city limits.
  • Since then, the department has been fully staffed, equipped and has been for the go-ahead from state officials to begin patrolling the streets.
  • 23ABC spoke with Wasco Chief of Police Charlie Fivecaot and Officer Ethan Alegria about what it means to them to finally be able to start patrolling the streets of the city and continue to build connections with the community.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

For the last 43 years, if you called 911 inside Wasco's city limits, you'd be connected with the Kern County Sheriff's Office. But starting Thursday? You'll be connected to the Wasco Police Department. I'm Sam Hoyle, your Wasco Neighborhood reporter.

"There was a lot of people that didn't think we were gonna be able to do it. But it's interesting as the process went on. There were times when I'd like to say that luck was better than good," said Fivecoat. "For whatever reason, we were blessed in it, and it worked out."

Across that time period, Fivecoat said it's been a steady build. From supervisory staff to dispatchers and officers to infrastructure, training, funding, and grants.

We've covered badge pinnings, and inter-departmental training over the last year, the only question that we now finally have an answer to is, "When will we see Wasco PD out patrolling the streets of Wasco?"

But Fivecoat says there are a lot of cogs that need to move in sync inside the machine that is a police department and they'll all need to be on point when the clock strikes 11.

"I certainly hope that everything goes off without a hitch. But I've been in a tactical arena most of my career. And I can tell you that usually the first thing you have difficulties with is communication. Here, we've stood up an entire 911 dispatch center. And there are so many moving parts in the system that you can almost anticipate something will happen," said Fivecoat.

In talking with the supervisory staff, the dispatchers, and the officers who were hired on throughout this process, they mentioned one of the reasons they wanted to come to Wasco was to help build a positive culture in the community and be there for their neighbors.

Now that the day is on the horizon?

"It feels amazing, it feels truly, like something most people never even get to imagine of doing level and actually do is the goal with the department that's from the ground up," said Alegria.

Chief Fivecoat did mention that they do expect there to be some issues on Thursday with their startup. He did leave me with an anecdote during our interview. He did say that if an earthquake were to happen and their building was destroyed, what would they do? They would do their jobs and that's what they plan to do on Thursday regardless of what happens.


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