Friday, February 3, 2023

A former cop outlines a culture of corruption, silence and doing "whatever it takes" to get a conviction in the Bakersfield Police Department, Gov. Newsom calls Bako the murder capital" of California and Traco Matthews gets his own church

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... POLICE CORRUPTION? A disgraced ex cop has leveled a series of accusations against the Bakersfield Police Department, claiming a culture of corruption in the early 2000s led officers and officers to lie, cover up and "do anything" to make a case stick. The charges came from Demacio Diaz in a

remarkable interview with KGET this week, and even if you consider that Diaz's own credibility has been called into question, his charges about a culture of corruption at BPD are troubling. Diaz was convicted and sentenced for his role in stealing drugs from the police evidence room, and has been linked to a 2013 shooting in which a police informant was killed in the Four Points Sheraton parking lot. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Diaz told KGET the culture at the department was to "get the  case closed by ant means possible." What that meant, he warned, was "your own business." Now retired Greg Williamson was chief at the time and did not comment for the KGET story.

 * ... BLAME GAME: Here's a question for those of you who live in Bakersfield and Kern County: do you feel as if you are living in the murder capital of California? That's exactly how Gov. Gavin Newsom refers to Kern County as he trades political barbs with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his 23rd Congressional District. Newsom was asked if he had spoken to McCarthy since the mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, and he dismissed that notion and added this: “Of course, he represents the murder capital of California,” Newsom said of McCarthy.

 * ... HAGGIN OAKS: When crime spikes in times like these, there are few neighborhoods that are immune from its poison. So it wasn't really a surprise when we learned that an elderly woman in Haggin Oaks suffered a home invasion robbery recently. But in Haggin Oaks? Police said several young men ransacked her home and made off with money and jewelry, temporarily turned the quiet neighborhood into a crime scene. When it happens in Haggin Oaks, you know it is happening just about everywhere.

* ... TRACO MATTHEWS: Congratulations to Traco Matthews who has just been installed as the new pastor of the Church of God Bakersfield. Matthews, a CSUB graduate and among a group of young leaders emerging in Kern County, will preside over the church along with First Lady Jessica Mathews, his equally accomplished wife. Previously Matthews worked for Area Energy, the Kern Superintendent of Schools, Community Action Partnership and State Farm. He currently serves as chief health equity officer at Kern Health.

 * ... WHAT A VIEW:  Check out this lovely drone photo of the hills of Kern County taken by German Cervera. And we wonder why cyclists love to traverse this county on two wheels.

 * ... MEMORIES: Two more great historical photos of some familiar streets posted by the folks over at Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

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