Lessons learned on the tough road to become a police officer

“I needed to get used to being tired, but still able to problem solve and think critically," said Officer Ian Whittington


Reprinted with permission from Behind the Badge

Ian Whittington grew up in the wine country town of Atascadero in California’s scenic central coast and always knew he wanted to become a police officer.

It was his childhood dream.

Officer Ian Whittington and his family are looking forward to setting down permanent roots in their new hometown.
Officer Ian Whittington and his family are looking forward to setting down permanent roots in their new hometown. (Behind the Badge)

But what the 25-year-old Whittington didn’t know is that Bakersfield Police Department would be instrumental to making his dream come true.

On June 24, Whittington graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Academy at the Bakersfield Police Department.

The road to becoming Officer Whittington wasn’t an easy one. He started his career as an Army reserve and then became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Through his training in different parts of California, and working with different police departments, he discovered the one-of-a-kind camaraderie at the Bakersfield Police Department.

“There seems to be a different bond at Bakersfield PD than any of the other departments I’ve worked with,” Whittington said. “There’s a special connection between the community and its police officers, you can see it everywhere.”

After deciding he wanted to become a Bakersfield police officer, Whittington joined the academy, but left after the first day when he realized he wasn’t ready – physically or mentally – to succeed. It was a difficult decision that made him wonder if he was cut out for law enforcement, but he promised himself he’d be back.

“I knew I needed to come back and get my badge through this department. I knew I had to come back to Bakersfield,” Whittington said. “So, I started training and I prepared myself so when I came back to the academy, I’d be ready.”

Whittington spent the next year training. He made running a priority, lifted weights, and took a job with a moving company so he could become physically stronger.

“I needed to get used to being tired, but still able to problem solve and think critically. I did that for seven months and it was great training for me,” he said.

The next year, Whittington went back to academy, and this time he felt ready and supported by the officers who were rooting for him at the Bakersfield Police Department.

“If there’s anything I learned from this experience it’s that this department really cares for you. They really want you to succeed and they do everything they can to help make you successful,” he said.

Whittington is now in field training, which is challenging and demanding. He and his wife and son have been living with his in-laws, but they are now looking to buy their first home together in Bakersfield, which is an exciting next step for the family. They have a new baby girl on the way and are looking forward to setting down permanent roots in their new hometown.

“There isn’t a distance Bakersfield PD won’t go to help you, and that’s one of the greatest and most comforting feelings you can have when you are new,” Whittington said.

NEXT: A career change for a disc jockey leads him to his local police department

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