BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Police work is part of everyday life in the City of Bakersfield. Bakersfield police officers patrol the city’s streets all day and night, but for some it may not always be clear what that work entails.
How often does an officer go on a call during a shift? What level of danger does an officer get into every day? Is it really what you see on the news?
If needed for your profession or if you are considering going on a ride-along with the Bakersfield Police Department there are a few things you should know beforehand.
It may be intimidating, but just about anyone is eligible to participate in the Bakersfield Police Department’s ride-along program and most officers look forward to it.
“I would say all officers are excited about the opportunity to show a person that is interested in their day-to-day work what they actually do,” BPD Sgt. Robert Pair told KGET.com. “When I was a patrol officer, I always enjoyed having a ride-along.”
Pair said there are a lot of misconceptions about what a police officer does on a day-to-day basis and suggests ride-alongs can show “an actual, true depiction of what the day-to-day events of a police officer going about their duties are, and it’s not scripted.”
The ride-along allows the participant to experience a conversation with the officer and it could give the public a way to connect with the officers and humanize them, Pair shared.
Factors that disqualify someone from being eligible are: being under the age of 18, denial by any supervisor, pending criminal action, a pending lawsuit against the department and prior criminal history, according to the city’s website.
Once a civilian is approved they are only allowed to go on a ride-along once every six months, according to the city’s website.
A few community members are allowed to go on ridealongs more often and that includes: Chaplains, police cadets and applicants, Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol and others approved by the watch commander.
An encounter that officers may face is shootings and during a ride-along, the member may also encounter an officer-involved shooting.
This can be seen in a White Lane shooting that left one man dead on March 18, 2023.
The police department released a video of this shooting and in the video, the involved officer has a member of the ride-along in their cruiser.
The video shows the officer arriving at the scene and tells the ride-along member that they will be staying in the vehicle because they believed the suspect had a knife.
Pair told KGET.com, the department encourages anyone eligible and interested to apply to the program. To apply to the ride-along program go to the City of Bakersfield’s website, by clicking here.