Five longtime residents of Tehachapi were honored Tuesday for their dedication and commitment to the Kern County Sheriff's Office after each served 25 years as volunteers of the Citizens Service Unit.
With 53,606 service hours among them, The Tehachapi Five, as they have been dubbed, have proven how important volunteers can be to any organization, as well as a valuable asset to law enforcement agencies.
Mike Davies, Paula Raboy, Barbara Stevens, Richard Murphy and Bob Bakman were recognized for their service during a special lunch held at Big Papa's.
"We started this unit before the Tehachapi Police Department even existed," Murphy said. "Anywhere they need us to go, we go there. I took over from Captain Al Anders."
According to Raboy, her commitment as a CSU volunteer stems from her love for the community.
"We love to help, and we think we are helping," said Raboy.
Asked if she was planning on retiring anytime soon, Raboy said with a laugh, "Probably not, because if I did, what would I be doing?"
According to Davies, all CSU volunteers perform different jobs to support the Sheriff's Office.
"The main thing that we do is patrol our neighborhoods at night and do house checks. It's rewarding to be a part of the neighborhood and a part of the Sheriff's Department," said Davies.
As a CSU volunteer, Stevens said she feels like she is part of a family, and that her efforts make a difference in keeping the community safe.
"We don't just do admin, rural crime and patrolling, but we also work a lot of the festivities," said Stevens. "There is always something going on that makes it rewarding or interesting."
Bakman said he plans on continuing with the CSU for years to come.
"I'm planning on going on for a while. I got 25 (years) in, but I'm a youngster — I'm only 80," said Bakman.
Bakman said that the CSU's primary job is to relieve the deputies of all administrative type duties that would interfere with them being out in the community protecting the community.
"They have volunteered for so long, that it's incredible how many man hours they have put in for free," said Sgt. Mike Dorkin of the Tehachapi Substation. "Their duties are priceless. The Tehachapi CSU is very strong with a lot of active members, probably more than just about any unit."
In addition to The Fantastic Five, the CSU receives support from other volunteers within the community.
Said Sgt. Dorkin, "We always welcome volunteers. We would love to have more on the CSU side and the reserve deputy side. There are lots of functions that people can do such as search and rescue or something else that they may like."
According to Angela Monroe, public information officer for the Kern County Sheriff's Office, the Tehachapi Five volunteers serve an important role in the community.
"Not only do they keep the community safe, but they also save us money. For example, in 2018, all volunteers of the Citizens Service Unit dedicated 86,359 hours," said Monroe. "There aren't enough words to express our gratitude for these five who put out their time, as well as the countless others who are helping by serving our community."