A Bakersfield police officer finds fulfillment as a school resource officer


Three years ago, Nadine Yeary was a part of the fast-paced, grueling hours, never-ending workload of the Bakersfield Police Department’s gang unit – and she loved it.

Had you asked her then if she would give it all up to become a school resource officer (SRO), teaching kids about stranger danger and keeping their front doors locked, she would have flatly refused.

But then Yeary became a mom, and as much as she loved what she did as a police officer, she knew she needed to find work-life balance if she was going to continue in her career.

When she was approached to join the school resource unit, she reluctantly made the change. Now, Yeary says being a SRO is the most fulfilling and important job she could have as a police officer.

“It was really rough in the beginning. I didn’t want to be an SRO, but I just told myself ‘It’s fine.’ But now I am having a lot of fun, and I get to make connections with kids and watch them grow up,” Yeary said.

Bakersfield Police Department has an agreement with Bakersfield City School District for up to four full-time officers to cover its 44 schools.

Police officers work closely with school officials, social workers, and teachers to help students struggling in school. This can be for truancy, kids being bullied, behavioral problems, safety issues, home visits, and being a general presence on campuses so students can get to know local law enforcement.

“We work with kids in all of the Bakersfield City School District. This can be a home visit, reaching out to a student who posted a picture on social media that is concerning, bringing fake guns to school or talking to someone who is suicidal,” Yeary said. “I work with the elementary schools and a lot of our calls are working with kids who don’t want to go to school, are being bullied, or who have parents who don’t care if they are going to school – it’s different every day.”

Yeary has now been an SRO for more than 2 ½ years, she is part of the Junior Police Academy through Bakersfield’s Police Activities League, and she’s become a familiar face for kids at community events throughout the city.

She’s often seen around town in red heart-shaped sunglasses and pink handcuffs that she will wear when she goes into a classroom to speak.

Yeary (Center photo) with School Resource officers from BPD.

“Unfortunately, some of these kids have family members that don’t like police,” Yeary said. “So, getting a chance to know them is a positive interaction for them. It can change so much for them.”

Most recently, Yeary had the opportunity to bring in Patrol Officer Nicole Madsen from Bakersfield Police Department to speak with a student who had been skipping school because she was struggling with a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.

“I am a Type 1 diabetic and I just wanted to show her that just because you have this medical condition doesn’t mean you can’t be or do whatever she wants,” Madsen said. “I got it when I was 11, and it’s definitely tough to maintain, you have to watch your diet, give yourself shots, you have to worry about things that other kids don’t. But I just wanted to reassure her that there was nothing wrong with her.”

Madsen and Yeary coordinated with the teacher to speak to the young girl. They met up at school, where they were able to freely talk about the challenges that come with having diabetes and the importance of going to school.

“She was missing school quite a bit because she was embarrassed that she had to leave early from class to check her blood sugar,” Madsen said. “I talked to her about my own life and how I lived with diabetes. It hasn’t slowed me down at all. I’ve been a professional athlete, went through the police academy, and I’m a police officer. I control diabetes. It is not going to control me.”

For Yeary, it’s these connections between officers and students that make her days feel fulfilling.

“I fell in love with this job, and these kids. I want them to have a future and to succeed,” she said.