New recruits bring fresh perspective to Bakersfield Police Department


In June, Bakersfield Police Department officials held a graduation for 25 newly sworn police officers who made it through its difficult and demanding six-month training academy. The recruits, some homegrown locals while others new to the area, are part of the outreach efforts by the department to increase its force and bring new talent to the Bakersfield community.

This is the fourth graduating class for Bakersfield PD since voters passed the Public Safety and Vital Service Measure in 2018 (Measure N). This measure gave the department the funding to hire 100 officers in three years, increasing the number of officers on the force to 500.

Bakersfield PD continues to hire new officers and also seeks established officers who want to make a lateral move to a thriving big city department with a small-town personality.

“We continue to look for officers from all different places in their career who want to come to a department that has all the great aspects of a small town, but still having all of the perks of a big city department,” said Assistant Chief Mike Hale. “We are a department and city that is growing, and we are looking for candidates who have something to add to our department.”

Behind the Badge had a chance to chat with some of the new police officers who are now doing field training and getting to know the community.

Name:  Jordan Lee

Age: 31

Hometown:   Bakersfield, California

What has your experience been like so far at the Bakersfield Police Department? 

The experience with the department has been great. Each member within the department has been helpful and informative. Being the new person can always be intimidating, but I have found that everybody I met takes the time to teach me.

What brought you to law enforcement? 

Growing up I was surrounded by family and friends that worked in law enforcement and always felt my path was the same. I’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger and I feel the Bakersfield Police Department will provide that.

What has surprised you most about living/working in Bakersfield? 

Even though Bakersfield is expanding, I feel as if everybody in the community is close. When I go places with friends or family, there are always interactions with other groups of people, and somebody knows somebody.


Name: Justyn Vest

Age: 33

Hometown: Bakersfield, California

What has your experience been like so far at the Bakersfield Police Department? 

My experience has been pretty awesome so far. Training and officer development definitely appear to be an important goal of the department. From regular officers to assistant chiefs, it feels like everyone has taken at least a small part in training the future officers of the department. It is also refreshing that most officers are from the Bakersfield area, and it also brings a sense of ownership knowing that we are providing a service for the communities we live in. I believe that plays a large role in the support we get from this city, despite the fact that other departments around the country do not.

What brought you to law enforcement? 

I wanted to be more involved in our city, and to challenge myself with the important but difficult job of being a police officer. To be quite honest, I think I’ll be good at it as well.

What has surprised you most about living/working in Bakersfield? 

Everyone knows everyone in Bakersfield. Growing up, my family used to refer to Bakersfield as the biggest little town in California. It’s amazing how often I will run into someone I went to school with, or someone that knows my parents or other family members and friends. It really makes you feel connected to the city and part of the community.


Name: Dakota LaCombe

Age: 29

Hometown: Palmdale 

What brought to Kern County? 

I am a fan of the outdoors and enjoy the wide variety of terrain Kern County has. From the Mojave Desert to the Kern River, there is plenty to enjoy and explore. 

What has your experience been like so far at the Bakersfield Police Department? 

The academy was tough but for all the right reasons. Although designed to be hard, the support the department gives you really makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. 

What brought you to law enforcement? 

Working as an EMT prior, I was exposed to the different tasks and roles law enforcement provides to the community. I wanted to be a part of that and continue to help people in different capacities.

What has surprised you most about living/working in Bakersfield? 

Bakersfield is one of the larger cities in California and I was surprised with how connected and involved the community is with one another. The support the community has for its first responders is amazing.