The CHP was sent into this California city to crack down on crime. Here is what happened

View of downtown Bakersfield.
A view of downtown Bakersfield. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent California Highway Patrol officers to the city in an effort to tamp down crime.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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Authorities in Bakersfield made 211 arrests, recovered 127 stolen vehicles and seized four firearms in the first six weeks of an enforcement effort between local police and the California Highway Patrol to reduce crime in some California cities, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Tuesday.

Newsom announced last week that he was sending California Highway Patrol officers to Bakersfield as part of an expansion of an anti-crime campaign that began in the Bay Area earlier this year. It turns out they were already in town and had been for several weeks.

In February, he sent 120 CHP officers to Oakland to address an uptick in theft and violence amid increasing concerns about crime across the state.


Officials identified Kern County — home to Bakersfield — as the second location for the crackdown in part because the region has higher rates of violent and property crime and more arrests compared with the statewide average.

“Working alongside local law enforcement, the state will continue to step up to take down criminals and make Bakersfield safer for everyone,” Newsom said in a prepared statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is increasing state police presence in Oakland under a new law enforcement campaign to target rising violent crime and theft.

Feb. 6, 2024

In the last six weeks, officers have focused on reducing car theft, tamping down retail crime and bolstering traffic enforcement — a key aspect of crime reduction, Chief Rodney Ellison, CHP’s Central Division Commander, told The Times.

Saturation patrols, which draw a heavy police presence to a specific area, have been a tool for officers in the Central Valley in recent weeks, Ellison said.

During a one-day enforcement effort, authorities issued 230 citations, most of them for speeding, and arrested three people on suspicion of felonies. More enforcement actions are in the works, officials said.

“When you live in an area that’s been riddled with crime and you start seeing patrol cars rolling around it gives you a sense of confidence that it’s safe,” Ellison said. “And that’s what it’s really all about — making the community a safer place for people to live.”


Rising crime in recent years has been a source of intense political pressure for Democrats in California. Highly visible crimes like smash and grab robberies have bolstered critics’ complaints about the state’s criminal justice policies, particularly Proposition 47, which classified certain drug possession offenses and nonviolent property crimes that do not exceed $950 in value as misdemeanors.

Inconsistent information makes it difficult for California lawmakers to draft proposed laws to combat retail theft.

Dec. 30, 2023

In Bakersfield, the most populous city in Kern County, homicide rates climbed 36% between 2020 and 2021, reaching a high of 60 in 2021. The number dropped to 37 in 2023, but homicides in the city remained about 50% higher than they were a decade ago, according to statewide crime data.

Car thefts have climbed nearly 67% between 2019 and 2022. Commercial robberies have also been on the rise in the last decade, statistics show.

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh applauded the initial results of the police effort in the city, saying in a prepared statement that it speaks “to the fruitful relationship ... between local and state partners to keep Bakersfield families safe.”