Despite pounding rain, light hail and heavy winds, spirits could not be dampened at Thursday night's third annual Thin Blue Line ceremony, honoring those who protect the city.

Surrounded by proud family members, friends and police supporters, the night's honorees enjoyed an evening of conversation and dinner before the ceremony. More than 140 people, service organizations and corporate sponsors bought tickets to the Tehachapi Police Foundation fundraiser.

Nearly 10 minutes of very heavy, noisy rain including hail on the roof of the Rose Garden event center could not prevent Police Chief Kent Kroger from turning up the public address system volume and continuing his presentation.

The evening was moderated by foundation Vice President Kim Nixon. Kroeger presented the awards.

Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett gave a brief history of the founding of the city's police department.

“It was a long sought-after wish and dream of Tehachapi's longtime city Mayor Ed Grimes.” The first day the Tehachapi Police Department came online, Grimes rode with officers on the night shift.

When the Police Foundation found out that the officers needed tactical safety vests, the Police Foundation went to work to raise funds for their purchase. SunSelect, BHE Renewables, Lehigh Hanson, Ruthie Grimes and Bank of the Sierra partnered to present a check from the Police Foundation to the city for $11,000 for their purchase.

In a brief speech, Mayor Susan Wiggins thanked the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line.

The honorees were:

Civilian Employee of the Year was Police Technician and Dispatcher Mark Machanic. Kroeger praised his ability to work closely with the public while balancing the needs of the officers in the field and the civilian on the phone line. He is also a TPD Reserve Officer.

The Volunteer of the Year is John Funderburk, who started with the department in 2015 and in 2018 donated more than 320 hours of his time. His duties include taking documents to local courts, evidence pick-up and delivery and working special events. He is most often seen patrolling around schools.

Officer of the Year is Richard Kiser. Kroeger was appreciative of Kiser’s ongoing desire to continue training to make himself even more valuable to the department. He recently earned POST certification as a Drug Recognition Expert as it pertains to field drug recognition, its telltale signs of use, and its associated paraphernalia and nomenclature.

Kiser said, “It's an honor to receive such fine recognition tonight. I truly enjoy the fact I can serve in, and be of service to, my own community. It's my hometown, and I like keeping it safe.”