Bakersfield Police Officer Adewale Lebimoyo has always had the heart of a cowboy.
He grew up on a small farm in Sacramento, California raising goats and chickens alongside his Nigerian father, who also grew up raising goats and chickens.
Farm life was a family business.
And while it wasn’t always ideal, Lebimoyo can look back and realize those early mornings chasing after chickens and herding squirmy Billy goats was what brought him to the dusty landscape of Bakersfield, where cowboying is a way of life.
“If you can imagine being a kid and being woken up by your dad to feed the chickens and goats before you had to go to school. It wasn’t always fun,” Lebimoyo said. “But I genuinely loved growing an army of animals on my land, and even though they caused me so many headaches, my experiences with goats helped shape a little about me and what type of life I wanted to have.”
Lebimoyo’s journey from goat farming to law enforcement begins with the tiny seedling that began to sprout in high school when he dreamed of being a fire fighter, putting out flames and helping his community.
Around this same time, he began to learn more about high crime rates, police brutality, and the racial divides affecting his community and his people.
“It’s great for people to speak up on what they believe, but it’s also important to take action. I knew I had to do something if I wanted to be part of making real change,” said Lebimoyo, 23. “My mentality is you can talk all you want, but if you aren’t willing to get into the system and make real changes, then it doesn’t matter. I decided to become a police officer because I can make a real difference.”
After high school Lebimoyo attended community college in Sacramento and stayed on the farm with his parents until it was time to transfer to a university. His choices were Sacramento State, Sonoma State, Chico State, or California State University, Bakersfield.
“Bakersfield felt like the best place for me. I came down here with my parents and I liked it. It’s a big city, but still small,” Lebimoyo said. “The culture here is more country, there was still a western country type here, which I felt comfortable in because I grew up on a farm.”
Lebimoyo’s plan was to finish college and head back to Sacramento after graduation. But with time, he made friends and took an internship at Bakersfield Police Department’s Police Activities League (PAL) program, where he got to work with kids and be a positive role model for at-risk youth.
He also found a place a few hours away in Fresno where he could explore rodeos and his new aspiration of becoming a professional bull rider. While he did grow up on a one-acre farm raising goats and chickens, and the occasional flower bed, Lebimoyo never got to raise a cow, ride horses or bulls, but he knew he wanted to try.
“In bull riding, you don’t need to grow up riding horses, you don’t have to know how to rope. Bull riding doesn’t care what color you are, what language you speak … you just have to have heart,” Lebimoyo said. “So, when I finally got on a bull, it was the most peaceful feeling I have ever felt in my life. Even though I was sitting on a 1,500-pound bull, when they opened the gates, I knew this was it for me.”
Lebimoyo’s love of competition, cowboy life, and law enforcement has made Bakersfield the ideal place to launch his career. After graduating from college, he was looking at where he should go for the police academy and David Brooks, the Executive Director at Bakersfield’s PAL program where he was interning asked him, “Well, why not here?”
So, he decided to stay a while.
He completed the Bakersfield Police Academy in December 2021 and began field training shortly afterward.
“People say it sucks to wake up early, but I’ve been waking up early all of my life. The hardest part for me is having to deal with all of the aspects of the job, knowing all of the local laws and in the country, being physically fit, and being able to fight and shoot firearms,” he said. “This is arguably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It’s stressful, mentally and physically, but I am loving every minute of it.”