The men and women of the Tehachapi Police Department are committed to providing a safe community and preserving a high quality of life for all residents, businesses, and visitors through community partnerships and responsive professional service.
While building community with safety and service, we will hold ourselves to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct, always treating people with dignity, fairness, and respect.
Tehachapi’s law enforcement history actually extends many years prior to the City’s incorporation, at least as far back as the 1870’s. Prior to the City’s “official” existence, the area was policed by constables. We are fortunate to have an original constable badge on display at the police station. The badge, along with other items, was donated by former Tehachapi Police Chief and Former Kern County Sheriff, John Smith.
While we are all aware of the risks faced by modern day police officers, Tehachapi actually had two constables killed in the line of duty in the 1870’s.
On November 6, 1873, Tehachapi Constable William S. Metler had traveled to Havilah in an attempt to serve an arrest warrant for murder on a Francisco Gomez. Unfortunately, during the confrontation, Constable Metler was shot to death by Gomez.
Tehachapi’s second law enforcement death occurred just three years later, in 1876. Tehachapi Constable Thomas H. Godwin confronted two men who were disturbing the peace. Both men resisted and Constable Godwin was required to shoot one of them in self-defense. The surviving suspect, a James Hayes, later took revenge for his friends’ death. Hayes found Constable Godwin in a local Tehachapi business and shot him dead. Hayes was hung for the cold-blooded murder in 1877.
A local legend indicates that, due to his evil deed, Hayes could not be buried with the good townsfolk at the Old Town Cemetery. Instead, Hayes was buried alone outside town and, sometimes, late at night, Hayes can still be found roaming the Old Town Cemetery on horseback.
Tehachapi Town Marshal (1909-1944)
Upon incorporation in 1909 the town of Tehachapi appointed its first peace officer, the Town Marshal.
In 1910, Dick Williamson was appointed as the Night Watchman. The following year, 1911, Williamson was appointed as Deputy Marshal. The pay was $10.00 a month. That’s just a little less than today’s salaries.
In 1932, Town Marshal P. N. Luca was charged with embezzlement and resigned from office.
Tehachapi Police Department (1944-1987)
In 1944, the Town Marshal’s Office was officially changed to the Tehachapi Police Department under the first Chief of Police, H. W. Kirkbride.