Serving the community since 1970

Wasco and its police chief have a vision

Deterring crime in the city has been an elusive goal for years for the Kern County Sheriff's Office and Wasco city leadership. Now, the chief of the new Wasco Police Department, Charlie Fivecoat says he will do what it takes to address public safety.

"We are still in the process of establishing the Police Department, and crime prevention strategies are still being developed. Ultimately, we will have a visible presence in the community, and all our enforcement strategies will be in part based on our collaboration with the citizens," Chief Fivecoat said in an interview last week.

To reduce crime in the city, he explained, "Citizens and the Police Department must build mutual trust and respect. It will require all of us to successfully address the public safety issues."

The new department will play a significant role in combating crime "by being highly visible and actively engaged in the community," he said.

The gangs in Wasco that pose challenges.

"There is a Southern gang presence in the community. Wasco Rifas 13 is the local gang, but there are other associate gang presences."Like most criminal enterprises, the local gangs are involved in any profitable endeavor like drugs, vehicle thefts, robberies and street violence."

The worst crimes? "All crime is unacceptable," Fivecoat said.

When asked what he believes is the root cause of crime in Wasco, he said, "There are many economic and social issues that affect crime. I believe there is a breakdown in the family, and that socialization is often determined by peer and popular culture instead of strong family support. Children need to grow having hope and belief in their value."

Chief Fivecoat said that residents worried about crime should all be concerned.

"We should all realize it will take all of us to police our community."

To keep the community feeling safe and confident about law enforcement protecting the town, he the city and its law enforcement needs a focus, "The elected officials, your City Council, understand the policing needs for the community and have created the vision for the new Wasco Police Department."

"The city staff and many local community organizations have been working diligently to provide a good local police agency. My job as your chief is to build a culture of mutual respect and concern for the dignity of all our citizens. Protecting our town will require that all of us, police and citizens, work together. "

He will aim to recruit and hire as many as possible from Wasco for the WPD.

"We will have police officers that were raised in Wasco and some who still live here. We are attempting to hire as many residents as possible and will be augmenting our recruitment with trained lateral officers from other agencies."

"Eventually, we will recruit local candidates for the police academy. The department will ultimately have 23 officers and seven dispatch and records employees."

Sergeant Corey Stacey of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Wasco substation provided recent statistics.

"Year to date, we have responded to 4,235 calls for service within the City of Wasco. There have been 144 felony arrests and 176 misdemeanor arrests. The crimes we respond to the most lately are vehicle thefts. There have also been several assaults, robberies, burglaries and thefts."

"Because we are a contract city, these numbers are from within the City of Wasco. Unfortunately, crime has been on the rise over the last several years across the nation, which includes Kern County."


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