BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – They took an oath to protect and serve. And while doing so, they gave their lives to protect their communities. Dozens of fallen officers were honored and remembered around Kern County.
In 1962 President John F Kennedy proclaimed the week of May 15 National Police Week. Over the past 150 years, law enforcement in Kern County has lost 36 officers in the line of duty.
Ceremonies started early in the morning outside of Bakersfield Police Department Headquarters. Names of fallen officers were called one by one through a fallen officer broadcast. A wreath placed by family members of fallen officers paid their respects at the memorial dedicated to them.
“We honor that honorable sacrifice,” said BPD Sgt. Robert Pair. “We honor the notion of selfless service and service with honor.”
BPD has lost 10 officers with the most recent loss being a K-9 named Jango. Outside of the fallen officer’s memorial at BPD Headquarters, K-9 Jango, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, is honored and memorialized.
Jango was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a vehicle theft suspect last year. The K-9 served in the field of suspect apprehension and explosive material detection since 2017.
In south Bakersfield, those that patrol California’s roads were also honored. The California Highway Patrol remembered their fallen officers with tributes alongside the families of the fallen.
“We are working for the community,” said CHP Officer Tomas Martinez. “We saw so many departments here with us and we will be with them at their ceremonies.”
Over at Kern County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters, a very somber and emotional ceremony remembered the 31 fallen of the force.
One by one, the 31 names of fallen officers were read and a plaque was placed on a memorial wall by KCSO leadership. The last name read was of Deputy Sheriff Philip Jesse Campas who was killed in the line of duty last July during a standoff at a home in Wasco. Accompanying Campas’ family was Sheriff Donny Youngblood as well as officers from neighboring agencies.
“We never thought this memorial would grow to the number it did, but it did,” said Sheriff Donny Youngblood. “It takes a special person to put on that uniform and help people that don’t necessarily want our help.”
The day of remembrance ended back in Downtown Bakersfield. Where a county-wide ceremony remembered 36 officers of the law who paid the ultimate sacrifice even as a nationwide anti-police sentiment grows.
“People can see that not all law enforcement officers are perfect,” said District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. “They make mistakes but the majority do whatever they can to serve and protect anyone in this community.”