The Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation was born on June 10, 1988 as the Kern County Sheriff’s Advisory Council. It was the fulfillment of a campaign promise made by former Sheriff John Smith to create such an organization.
Its purposes are to promote efficient law enforcement by providing assistance and support to the various police agencies of Kern County whether federal, state or local, to provide scholarships for students who aspire to become involved in a law enforcement career, and to recognize outstanding accomplishments of law enforcement officers and lay citizens who, at risk to themselves, have courageously taken action to resolve a law enforcement emergency.
Bill Dolan, a former Kern County under sheriff and retired Arvin High School teacher, now 94 years of age as of his last birthday, served two years as the Sheriff Advisory Counsel’s first president. Succeeding presidents were Jim Garner, then owner of Bakersfield Envelope, one year, John Woltz, of the BIA Insurance Agency, two years, Ken Reed, owner of the Alley Cat, two years, Tom Sheets, administrator of the Young Nichols Law Firm, two years, Harvey Hall, of the Hall Ambulance Company and present Mayor of the City of Bakersfield, two years, Frank Williams, retired commander of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and three years, Randy Boggs, retired police detective of the Bakersfield Police Department.
With strong support from Sheriff Smith, the Advisory Council got off to a great start. By the end of the second year memberships had grown to more than three hundred, many of them brought in by Sheriff Smith personally. During its brief history the organization has undergone two name changes. Early, during the administration of Sheriff Carl Sparks and at his request the Council’s name was changed to “The Kern County Sheriff’s Foundation”.
During the presidency of Tom Sheets and with the approval of Sheriff Sparks the Board of Directors expanded the scope of the Foundation so that it might serve the needs of all law enforcement agencies in Kern County without the restriction of ties to any one department. The Board of Directors was aware that the smaller departments in the county, as well as the Bakersfield Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol also had unbudgeted needs. The Board also hoped that by expanding its service, it might be able to expand its membership base sufficiently to cover the additional requests for donations.
The first major and very successful contribution was a drug sniffing dog by the name of Murphy, valued at $5,000.00. During Murphy’s career, he earned a sizable sum in forfeitures of drug money and equipment which his buddies on the Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Task Force were able to locate and seize as a result of his trained sniffer. Murphy was such a celebrity in his heyday that he was an honored guest at several of the Council’s general meetings. His reputation was so great, that at one meeting, the restaurant manager at the Red Lion asked Murphy’s handlers to please keep him out of his employees’ locker room. Jokingly, of course? Murphy retired in April 1996 after an illustrious career in narcotics enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department.
He was a trained narcotic detector and was the first major gift to the department by the Advisory Council. When asked what plans Murphy had for his retirement, his handler, Deputy Bruce Saunders said that he had purchased Murphy from the department and that Murphy would spend much of his time laying about in Saunders’ back yard.
According to Saunders, Murphy proved to be an excellent investment. During his final four years, according to department records, Murphy participated in two hundred seventy six searches for narcotics which resulted in the arrest of one hundred eighty suspects. Drugs with a street value of $5,841,393.00 were seized and $36,803.00 in cash was forfeited. In one ninety day period in 1991 with handler Deputy Al Crespo, Murphy was involved in twenty three searches and the seizure of $1,023,640.00 of narcotics and $84,430.00 in U. S. currency. Murphy was also involved in the seizure of vehicles with a forfeiture value of approximately $80,000.00.
On another occasion, The Berry Petroleum Company at Taft gave the by then, Sheriff’s Foundation, another opportunity to make an unusual dog related contribution. Berry Oil had discontinued use of a large house trailer which had been converted into a field office. Berry offered it to the Sheriff’s Office at no cost, but on a come and get it basis. The Sheriff’s Office was looking for an office for a canine training center that it was preparing at its Norris Road location. The department had no funds to pay for the trailer’s removal to the Sheriff’s proposed dog training center. Two Foundation Board Members, Bobby Shain and Doug Zimmerman, drove out on their own time to examine the building, which was located near Taft, to determine what was needed to move it. They then arranged to have the building moved at a cost of a bit over $4,000.00 which was funded by the Foundation. Old River Sod contributed the sod for ground cover which was installed by trustees from the jail under the supervision of sheriff’s officers. The contribution of the sod was a major individual gift to the project. The Foundation made other donations for doors, locks and other necessities.
The Foundation’s Board of Directors took a special interest in this project and after its completion held its July, 1999 luncheon meeting at the Sheriff’s Dog Training Facility. Sheriff’s Sergeant, Wim Leyder, commander of the unit, welcomed the group and reported that the facility was in daily use. A great deal of time and effort went into the making of this first class facility, which Leyder said is the envy of the Kern County Police Community.
The Foundation has received requests for many other useful items and services. The list includes $22,000.00, which is the largest gift thus far, for an automobile to the Sheriff’s Dare Program; night vision glasses to the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue; a substantial shared contribution with the Farm Bureau for a computer system for use of the Rural Crime Detail. Another shared contribution was made to the Kern River Valley Search and Rescue Team for fifty percent of the cost of an inflatable rescue boat to replace one that had been wrecked and destroyed. The other half of the cost was raised by a group of Kern Valley businessmen. Other examples were $2,000.00 for Sheriff’s Swat Team flak jackets, $2,500 for a lap top computer for the Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Detail to prepare search warrants in the field to speed up preparation for drug busts. A STARX computer for the Sheriff’s command center, $494.35 for 20 jackets for the Sheriff’s Gang Suppression Unit, and $l,649.00 for two global position receivers for Search and Rescue. This is a partial list, but is a good example of the variety of needs that the Foundation is called upon to fill.
In May 1998 Tom Sheets completed his second term as president of the Foundation, during which time he spearheaded the expansion of the Sheriff’s Foundation into the new Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation. Sheets said that he wanted the expansion so that the Foundation could respond to the needs of any county law enforcement agency unrestricted by ties to any one department, “We have had a great relationship with the Sheriff’s Department, and it will continue to be closely associated with the Foundation.”
Harvey Hall became the first president of the Foundation under its present name, Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation.
Over the past thirteen years the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation has proudly sponsored over $20,000 in scholarships to deserving students in Kern County. To qualify for the program, the student must be enrolled as a full time student in a Law Enforcement or Criminology program at Bakersfield College, Cal State University Bakersfield, Taft College or Cerro Coso College. The student must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average, have lived in Kern County for the past five years and plan on working in a local law enforcement organization.
Each scholarship awarded is a total of $4,000 paid each semester or quarter based on proof of eligibility. Past recipients have been high school students entering college or students already attending college.
This program is exceptionally rewarding to our Board of Directors, reinvesting in our future Law Enforcement leaders is a goal of our Foundation.
If you know a student that meets our criteria, please contact Sharon Scoggins of Hall Ambulance Service, Inc (661) 322-1625 – or any Board Member for additional information. We look forward to introducing you to the recipient of our 2006 award in our Spring Newsletter.
Now, six years after completing his first two terms, Tom Sheets has agreed to become president for the third time and is now in his fourth month of his second administration. He has been a member of the Board of Directors since its organization eighteen years ago.
Click here for a Membership Application. We encourage your participation.