The colorful plastic Easter eggs are in shades of spring: yellow, pink, and green. They are oversized and hard to the touch, but what’s most unique about the plastic eggs created by Bakersfield Police Department’s Bomb Squad is that when you place them to your ear you can hear them.
For Bakersfield Senior Officer Juan Orozco, watching kids navigate through the grass while listening for the “beeps” transmitting from the Easter eggs always reminds him how important this event is for everyone involved.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Bakersfield Police Department held its 6th annual audible egg hunt for blind and visually impaired kids on April 7 at the Police Activities League (PAL) Center in southeast Bakersfield.
The event partners each student with a Bakersfield police officer and together they go in search of eggs using sound as their guide.
Orozco created his first audible Easter egg in 2015 after reading about them in Detonator Magazine. With his experience in wiring, he was able to create one for the Bakersfield PD team and asked around to see if there was a need in the community.
That was how he met Gaylene Roberts, a principal who oversees special education for the blind and visually impaired through the office of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
The Bakersfield Police Department and the Superintendent’s office have worked in partnership since 2016, watching the event grow each year, with food, special Easter baskets, a petting zoo, bouncy houses and games for the students and teachers.
About 40 children are invited from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools who holds classes designed for low vision students, students learning academics and some students who are orthopedically impaired.
It’s a day for everyone to feel included, according to Roberts.
“The kids get so excited for this, because this is something just for them,” said Roberts. “They pair up with an officer and it’s the officer who sends them in the right direction, while the student listens for the eggs. The student has to use their auditory skills, it’s how they travel, how they listen for traffic and traffic patterns and how they can cross the street.”
Orozco and his team at the Bakersfield Police Department look forward to the Easter event as much as the kids do. The event was canceled in April 2020, and in 2021 when Orozco realized they’d have to reschedule it again due to the pandemic, the police department along with the school decided to come together to create special Easter baskets.
Each student from the Special Education program received books picked out by their teachers, candy, and t-shirts in baskets that had the name of each student written in braille in puffy paint.
“Since the first day I brought this to the department, we’ve had a lot of support from everyone,” said Orozco. “For these kids to be able to touch and feel is something special for them. Sensory is huge.”
Everyone on the bomb squad goes through intensive training in electronics, so for Orozco, recreating the audible Easter egg was a simple series of circuits which pulled wires from point A to point B.
“Growing up, I have always been into electrical work. I was never an electrician, but I liked helping my dad around the house. I liked to figure things out the hard way by getting shocked sometimes,” Orozco said with a laugh. “I have always been fascinated by figuring out how electronics work. I think it’s the best job in the department.”
The Bakersfield Police Department’s bomb squad averages about 40 to 60 calls a year, including calls from the SWAT team.
At this year’s event, Orozco and the officers from the team were thrilled to see about 40 kids attend the event. It was a happy reunion for the school, the kids and the police officers who got to witness their reactions.
“It was great to have all the kids present again and to be able to host it in person. It gives us the opportunity to really take our time and focus on the kids,” said Orozco. “It makes me feel good to see the enjoyment they get. I hope they keep it going long after I am gone.”