- The City of Wasco continues to inch closer to opening its police department full-time. According to Chief of Police Charlie Fivecoat, the department has nine commissioned officers on staff as well as six non-commissioned support staff on the books, and they believe they'll be able to run a full operation once they get to 15 commissioned officers.
- Chief Fivecoat says the department is continuing to hire staff and hopes that they will be able to start policing inside city limits by mid to late December.
You might have seen State Senator Melissa Hurtado and Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains present a ceremonial check for $5 million dollars to the Wasco Police Department to build a new building, but it begs the question where are they stationed at now?
Here in an old county building built in 1939, which as you can imagine, isn’t built to be a police department. But Wasco Police Chief Charlie Fivecoat says the focus right now is less on the physical building and more on the building of a positive culture within the department.
“When I came here, what I tried to to offer to our staff is — this is an opportunity to build something brand new. And when I say that, I don't mean just building a new building or putting all the parts together to make a police department, but it's about creating and environment in a culture where we go back to the values of what policing is about,” said Fivecoat.
The last time the city of Wasco had a police department was almost 43 years ago, in 1981 when the department was disbanded and since then the city has contracted with Kern County Sheriff's Office to provide law enforcement services within city limits. When the city started this process they were told to expect an 18-24 month process to get the department started. Fivecoat expects the department to get up and running significantly quicker than that.
“We believe that we can staff a 24-hour schedule fairly well, once we have 15 total commissioned officers on board. So we're really close to those numbers now, and I anticipate we'll have the other two sergeants and probably a couple of seniors on board in the next few weeks. So I'm — I'm hoping by mid to late December,” said Fivecoat.
As of right now, Kern County Sheriff’s Office is still policing inside city limits, but when the city decides it is ready to debut their department, they can submit a request to void their current agreement with Kern County. The request takes 180 days to take effect according to the contract signed by the city and the county in 2021.
Fivecoat did also note that the public reception surrounding the department has been overwhelming supportive from his point of view and he hopes to maintain that in the future.
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