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History

 

 

 The City of Taft was incorporated On November 6, 1910.   The first officers to patrol the streets of Taft were "City Marshal's".  The first City Marshal was E.G. Wood beginning November 8, 1910.  There is little history on the first Marshal's but we know there was at least a day and night Marshal.  One of the early Marshal's was named E.P. Munsey and was the former Chief of Police in Bakersfield, CA.  The position of City Marshal fulfilled duties as a tax and license collector.   

City Marshal's  

 

H.R. "Bert" Higgins

In 1925 the City of Taft formed the Police Department and in 1927 the first Police Chief was H.R. "Bert" Higgins.   Chief Higgins served honorably and well during his tenure.   Chief Higgins was set to retire sometime in 1942 but the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7th changed all that.  His replacement was set to be Harley Stumbaugh but Harley had other plans.   Stumbaugh joined the US Navy and served until the wars end in 1945.  Chief Higgins stayed on a few more years until Harley returned from service and then he retired in 1947.

H.R. Bert Higgins  

 

 

 

Taft Police Department group photo in 1947

This photo was taken just prior to the retirement of Chief Higgins.  

Left to right is:

Walt McKee, Harley Stumbaugh, Bert Higgins, Terrill Blair, John Baker, and Bob Jaggers.

1946 PD Group Photo

 

 

Pre-parade Group Picture

This is a pre-parade group picture with Chief Higgins, the CHP motor team, and a Taft Boy Scout Troop, possibly 1946.

Higgins, CHP, and Boy Scouts  

 

 

Harley Stumbaugh

The City of Taft appointed Harley Stumbaugh to the position of Chief of Police in 1947.   Harley's brother Harry Stumbaugh also served here on the Westside for the California Highway Patrol (CHP).   Harley Stumbaugh retired in 1955 to become Undersheriff of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. 

Chief Harley Stumbaugh  

 

 

Walt McKee

Walt McKee joined the City of Taft in July of 1940 working in the public works - Street Department.  By March of 1946 Walt changed positions to the refuse collection.   By May 1, 1946 Walt transfered again to become a Patrolmen with the Police Department.  He promoted to the rank of Sergeant on January 4, 1949 until he promotion to Chief of Police on January 10, 1955 and served until 1976.  

Chief Walt McKee  

 

 

Taft PD Group pic 1956

Standing left to right: Chief Walt McKee, Assistant Chief Dick Clark, Sgt. Mike Schwafel, Officer Cletas Manuel, Officer Ken Fuller, Officer Cecil Lambright, and Officer Harold Grant.

Taft PD group pic 1956  

 

 

1968 Counterfeiting ring investigation.

In September of 1968 Officers of the Taft Police Department, The Kern County Sheriff's Department, and the California Highway Patrol began a surveillance of a small cabin in Quatel Canyon just south of Taft in the remote Santa Barbara County area.   The cabin was used to print counterfeit US Currency.  The joint operation netted more than 1.2 million dollars in fake 20 dollar bills as shown in this photo.  Seated left to right are: Chief Walt McKee, CHP Officer Harry Stumbaugh, and Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Osborne  Standing left to right are: Deputy Jim Branch, Sgt. Mike Schwafel, Officer Larry  Buttke, Sheriff's Deputy Bob Tays, Investigator Ed Healy, and Officer Cletas Manuel.

Group photo of Taft PD and KCSO  

 

Wes Gendron

The position of Police Chief changed for several years until 1976 when the title of Police Chief was changed to Director of Public Safety.   Wes Gendron served from April of 1976 until November of 1976 as the new director. 

Chief Wes Gendron  

 

 

E.W. "Bud" Garmon Jr.

Bud Garmon was hired on May 2, 1977 as the new Director of Public Safety and served until January of 1979.  Chief Garmon is a man of many talents having served in the United States Air Force,  Police Officer and Sergeant at the Bakersfield Police Department, Special Agent - Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations, Deputy Director of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, Director of Public Safety of the Lindsey Police Department in Tulare County, California.  Bud then transfered over to the Porterville Police Department first as a Commander, then as the Chief of Police until his retirement in 2000.  From there Bud moved to Mena, Polk County, Arkansas as a County Judge.   

Chief E.W.  

 

 

Willard R. Schlieter

Chief Schlieter was hired on June 1, 1980 as a Police Chief thus ending the title of Public Safety Director.  Chief Schlieter served until October 8, 1984.  (No picture as of this date)

 

 

 

Gary Knox
Gary Knox was a former police lieutenant for the Chino Police Department and an assistant Chief for the Concord Police Department until his promotion to the rank of Chief of Police for the Taft Police Department on March 1, 1985. Chief Knox resigned in 1986 and took a job as Chief of Police with the Shafter Police Department.   

Chief Gary Knox  

 

 

 

Charles Scott 

Started his career at the Kern County Sheriff's Department up until his retirement in 1980 as a Sergeant.   Charlie Scott and his wife Joanne retired to Taft CA. where he was an owner in a tire business.   When Chief Knox resigned in 1986, the City searched for a suitable replacement and they found Charlie.  Chief Scott served until his second retirement in 1995. 

Chief Charles Scott  

 

1988 Taft PD received new cars

Taft PD group pic 1988

 

 

   

1988 Taft PD Group pic with Chief Scott

Front row left to right: John Brown, Sgt. Dale Glendening, Officer Mike Benskin, Officer Greg Greeson, Officer Ed Whiting, Chief Charles Scott

Back row left to right: Officer Bert Pumphrey, Sr. Officer Jim Vandenberg, Officer Richard Weathersbee, Officer Ray Butler, Sgt. Larry Dale, Officer Jeff Watts

Taft PD group pic 1988 B  

 

 

 

Bert Pumphrey

Chief Pumphrey served as a Patrolman with the Arvin Police Department and later with the Kern County Sheriff's Department obtaining the rank of Lieutenant. Bert attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy in 1979.  In 1980 Bert left the Sheriff's Department to open a trucking company in Oklahoma but returned to law enforcement in April 1987.   Bert started as a part time officer and had to take the P.O.S.T. recertification test which he passed without issue.  Bert went full time in September of 1987 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1992.   Bert promoted to the rank of Chief of Police in January 5, 1995.  Bert was instrumental in bringing the Taft Police Department up through better technology.  Bert brought in better police cars, equipment, rifles, and began the first police computer network for report writing and storage of data.  Bert retired in December of 2007 and with his wife Jan they moved to Oklahoma. 

 

Officer Bert Pumphrey 1988

Officer Bert Pumphrey  

 Bert Pumphrey addressing staff

Chief Bert Pumphrey  

 

 

Bert Pumphrey awarding Officer Brandon Kinney a Medal of Valor.

Standing next to them is City Manager Becky Napier. 

 Chief Bert Pumphrey giving an award

 

 

Ken McMinn

Chief McMinn started his law enforcement career with the Kern County Sheriff's Department in 1966.  Ken transferred over to the California Highway Patrol and served in the Monterey area of California before returning to Bakersfield.  Ken transferred back to the Kern County Sheriff's Department and then later to the Kern High School District Police Department as an investigator working at North High School.  Ken joined the Taft Police Department in 1990 as a Patrolman.  Ken promoted to Sgt, then Lieutenant, and was assigned to the new Taft Community Correctional Facility (Taft CCF).  In 1997 Ken attended and completed the FBI National Academy and in 2002 promoted to the rank of Captain.  In 2007 Ken was promoted to Chief of Police and served until his retirement in 2011.   During Ken’s tenure he has seen a complete upgrade of the Police Dispatch Center, the introduction of a motor officer to combat traffic accidents, the 100 year Anniversary of the City of Taft and "Oildorado" 100 year Celebration and the design and introduction of our new badge.  In addition to this, Ken oversaw the development and implementation of a wireless camera network covering the “Rails to Trails” area of Taft which can be monitored by the dispatchers or officers from their patrol cars.  Ken is also a member of the Taft Kiwanis’s and the Rotary service clubs.  In 2010 Ken was awarded the Paul J. Harris Award for his individual financial contributions to the Rotary Club.  

Chief Ken McMinn  

    

 

 

Ed Whiting

Chief Whiting served the Taft Police Department  for over thirty-two (32) years.  being named “Officer of the Year” in 1988 and worked his way up through the ranks, obtaining Senior Officer status in 1989, Police Sergeant in 1990, Lieutenant in 2008 and then as Chief of Police in 2012


During most of his early years with the City, he served as the Narcotics Investigator for the department, developing an expertise in narcotics investigation that allowed him to serve the local courts as a Certified Narcotics Expert; and he was instrumental in forming the City of Taft Police Departments close working relationship with the Kern county Sheriff’s Department back in the 1980’s that is still in existence today.


Chief Whiting served the Kern Chiefs Council, Office of Emergency Services and the Street Interdiction Team for the County, was a member of the Westec Board of Directors and a member of the Kiwanis Club in Taft;

Chief Whiting received the 2017 Kern Council of Governments Richard A. Maxwell Regional Award of Merit for a Public Official. 

Chief Ed Whiting 2   

 

Damon McMinn

Damon McMinn has over 26 years of combined experience in both corrections and law enforcement policing. He began his law enforcement career working for the City of Taft Community Correctional Facility where he was employed for approximately eight years, and promoted through the ranks to the position of Correctional Lieutenant.


Damon entered the Kern County Sheriff’s Academy in 1998, where he graduated and later accepted a Police Officer position for the City of Porterville. During his employment with the Porterville Police Department, he obtained a position in the Traffic Enforcement Unit as a Motor Officer.


For the last 16 years, Damon has been employed with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, where he promoted through the ranks to the position of Sheriff’s Lieutenant. While at the Sheriff’s Office, Damon worked in several vital positions including Homicide, Internal Affairs, Training, Detentions, Communications, and Search and Rescue.


In March of 2018, Damon accepted the position as Chief of Police for the City of Taft Police Department. Damon and his family have recently chosen to be residents of the City of Taft. 


Damon McMinn - Oath


 

Taft PD Group pic 2012

Front row left to right: Officer Doug Hallmark, Officer Veronica Sandoval, Officer Moises Martinez, Officer Mark Miller, CSO Tassie Zmotony, Officer Romel Bautista, Sgt. Ray Buford, Sgt. Shad Swanson

Back row front to back: Admin Asst. Chris Carpenter, Code Enforcement Officer Jill Gipson, Lt. Pete Aranda, Officer Robert Gomes, Officer Erik Hallmark, Officer David Wheeler, Officer Adrienne Villarreal, Officer Kevin Altenhofel, Officer Alfonso Gonzalez, Sgt. Corey Beilby, Chief Ed Whiting, and ACO Valerie Madsen

Taft PD Group pic 2012 B  

 

Police Dispatchers for 2013

Left to right are: Laura Hampton, Emily Golleher, Lacey Archibald, Tanya Spradlin, and Darla Adams.

Police Dispatchers 2013  

 

 

  

     
     
     
    City of Taft
    209 E. Kern St Taft, CA 93268
    Phone: (661) 763-1222  |   Fax: (661) 765-2480
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