College athlete finds the team he needs at Bakersfield Police Department


While studying at California State University, Bakersfield, Jacob Thalin took the usual courses: math, biology, English, and the artistry of the takedown, naturally.Thalin, a high school wrestler from San Jose, received a scholarship to attend the Bakersfield university and was thrilled to become a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrestling team. He knew the scholarship was his ticket to a college degree, and getting to wrestle while doing it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Four years later, he began to think of the next step post college. He had always dreamed of joining the military. The idea of serving his country while collaborating with a team appealed to him, and reminded him of wrestling. But an athletic injury derailed his career aspirations.

That injury is also what helped him find his new path as a Bakersfield police officer.

Behind the Badge sat down with Thalin, an officer for more than a year at Bakersfield PD, and he shared how wrestling and policing came together for one ideal career.

Q: What brought you to Bakersfield Police Department?

I knew in college that I wanted to go into the military, it just always appealed to me. I injured my neck while wrestling in college and had to have surgery. That surgery was an automatic disqualification from any type of military career, which was disappointing. But a couple of my wrestling friends were police officers, one in Costa Mesa and one here in Bakersfield.

Q: How was the academy experience for you?

It was stressful, and you don’t realize everything you are learning until you get out in the street and realize all of sudden everything makes sense because of everything you learned.

Q: How does your background in wrestling and athletics transfer to police work?

My background in wrestling helps with knowing how to control myself and people. I’ve never had to wrestle anyone while out on patrol, but with a wrestling-specific background you are able to see when things are going to escalate, and you are able to keep yourself calm and keep going. When I’ve had to chase someone because they are resisting, I never lose control, I don’t show emotion, and it helps to control the situation.

Q: How does your family feel about your career as a police officer?

My mom is nervous about it, but she and everyone else in my family is proud of me. It’s nice to have their support.

Q: How was your time as a wrestler similar to being a Bakersfield police officer?

Wrestling is intense because every day you compete against the same people who are on your team. But we all needed each other to become better. Wrestling, like policing, is a lifestyle. We are all willing to die on the mat, no one is willing to quit, and we are all trying for the same goal.

Q: What’s your advice to former athletes considering police work?

A lot of wrestlers are interested in policing because it’s very intense, just like wrestling. We are very dedicated to training, to living a healthy lifestyle, to exercise, lifting weights. It’s very much like this at Bakersfield Police Department. When I was thinking about what to do after college, I knew I could never sit at a desk somewhere – it sounded awful to me. So many former teammates of mine are in the military, working as firefighters, EMTs, and police officers … we are dedicated to being a part of something bigger than us.