How to Become a Police Officer in Bakersfield
Located in southern California, the city of Bakersfield boasts access to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and other recreational activities that showcase the city’s natural landscape and beauty. Bakersfield has a population of over 376,000, which is served by the 404 sworn officers and 148 civilian employees of the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD).1,2 Based on the city’s amenities, location, and low cost of living, Bakersfield is a great place for cops to start a career and call home. Aspiring law enforcement officers hoping to become a part of the Bakersfield Police Department will find information on the application, selection, and training process below.
Bakersfield Police Officer Requirements
The Bakersfield Police Department protects and serves the residents of Bakersfield. To be eligible for hire, prospective Bakersfield officers must:
- Be a US citizen or permanent resident alien who has applied for citizenship
- Be at least 20.5 years of age
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Not have any felony convictions
- Be a resident of Bakersfield or within 60 minutes driving time of City Hall by the end of the probationary period
The process of becoming a peace officer for the Bakersfield Police Department begins with filling out an online job interest card. When recruitment is open, candidates will receive a notice to submit an application. All candidates must complete a reading and writing assessment, an oral interview that will evaluate the candidate’s communication skills, and a physical ability test. To move forward in the application process, hopeful cops will have to undergo a polygraph exam and a medical and psychological evaluation.
To find out more about becoming a law enforcement officer in a big city, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For more recruitment information specific to the Bakersfield Police Department, visit the department’s website.
Bakersfield Law Enforcement Training Academy
All police recruits must attend the Bakersfield Law Enforcement Training Academy for at least 900 hours of law enforcement training. The academy has 42 topics, or learning domains, that each officer must learn, some of which include leadership and professional ethics, policing in the community, laws of arrest, patrol techniques, and traffic enforcement. Physical fitness and conditioning are also emphasized throughout the program. Following graduation from the academy, probationary officers typically spend 17 weeks paired with a field training officer learning further on-the-job skills.
Bakersfield Police Department Information
The Bakersfield Police Department has three major divisions: investigations, support services, and operations. Most cops will start their careers as patrol officers in one of the city’s 25 beats. Other specialty units within the department’s divisions include K-9, the bomb squad, vice/narcotics, and homeland security.
The Bakersfield Police Department gives special attention to gang enforcement; the gang Special Enforcement Unit consists of 22 uniformed officers plus two sergeants, two senior officers, and 13 police officers.2 A related unit, the Graffiti Habitual Offender Suppression Team (GHOST), investigates graffiti-related offenses.
The BPD hosts the Bakersfield Police Activities League (BPAL) and offers a Police Explorers Program for youth between the ages of 14.5 and 20. BPAL aims to provide youth-positive outlets through organized sports, mentorships, and relationship-building with cops. Police Explorers is for youth who have an interest in a law enforcement career. To participate, youth must have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher and can have no felony convictions. Explorers learn about police operation, attend a boot camp similar to the Police Academy at San Diego State University, and can volunteer in the Police Department’s property room, crime scene unit, and records areas.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
While in the academy and during the probationary period of one year, police trainees earn a monthly starting salary of $3,925.2 Upon promotion to officer, the base salary increases to $4,915 per month.2 Officers may earn more with bilingual pay, education pay, and intermediate and advanced law enforcement certificates. The department offers all officers paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave as well as health and life insurance, tuition reimbursement programs, and a uniform allowance. Officers are eligible to participate in the Public Employee’s Retirement System (CalPERS) and may also elect to participate in deferred compensation programs for retirement.
In the Bakersfield greater metropolitan area, approximately 1,560 law enforcement officers are employed, earning an average salary of $79,010 per year.3. In the state of California, the number of police officers is projected to increase by 5% by 2026.6 To view open listings for police officers in Bakersfield, visit our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Bakersfield
An estimated 1,310 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in the Bakersfield metro area.3 There are several communities surrounding Bakersfield where police officers can find rewarding careers in law enforcement. The table below provides an overview of police employment and crime statistics in the region.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population5||Police Dept. Total Employees6||Sworn Officers6||Civilian Staff6||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People7||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People7|
|Bakersfield||Bakersfield Police Department (BPD)||383,579||530||390||140||0.47||4.47|
|Lancaster||Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD)||159,053||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.69||2.19|
|Santa Clarita||Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff (SCVS)||210,089||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.16||1.43|
|Visalia||Visalia Police Department (VPD)||133,800||200||135||65||0.36||3.14|
- California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training – The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) is responsible for setting and upholding the minimum standards for peace officers throughout the state of California. The CA POST also provides intermediate and advanced training standards and opportunities for current officers.
- California Fraternal Order of Police – The California Fraternal Order of Police is a membership organization for current and retired law enforcement officers that promotes the profession and offers individual development opportunities.
1. Data USA: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/bakersfield-ca/
2. Bakersfield Police Department: https://bakersfieldcity.us/gov/depts/police/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bakersfield, CA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_12540.htm
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
5. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218
6. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6.xls/view