Delano is officially the first city in Kern County, and possibly in the state, to have the national motto “In God We Trust” placed on its patrol cars, but Bakersfield could soon be next.
At Wednesday's city council meeting, Bakersfield pastor Angelo Frazier plans to make a presentation during public comment, proposing Bakersfield follow in Delano's footsteps by adding the nation's motto to patrol cars.
"When Delano happened, that kind of snapped me into reality," said Frazier, who has been thinking about the idea for many years. "Everyone I've talked to in the community are all for it."
Frazier, who is also a volunteer BPD chaplain, noted that the decals would be paid for by local businesses, meaning the cost to the city would be nothing.
City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan has come out in support of the effort to place "In God We Trust" on city police vehicles.
She said that once the proposal comes before the city, she would work to place the item on the next city council agenda.
"The motto is non-partisan, nondemonianation. It is all inclusive. So it is intended for our community," Sullivan said. "There’s really no downside to this effort."
Several other community members are expected to attend Wednesday's council meeting in support of the proposal.
If the council places the proposal on the agenda of the next council meeting, it could come up for a vote as quickly as June 5.
"Hopefully it will catch fire and rock and roll," Frazier said.
The Delano Police Department’s cars were outfitted last week with decals on the back that include an American flag and the words “In God We Trust” underneath. The Delano City Council approved the decals at its April 2 meeting.
While other states have taken similar action, proponents believe Delano is the first time a California city has put the motto on police cars.
Bakersfield could be second, and proponents in Delano say the "In God We Trust" decal has been positive for the city.
“It’s a reminder of the beginnings of our nation’s founding. It gives people a sense of appreciation for our nation, for our motto,” said David Vivas, a pastor with World Harvest International Church who proposed the idea to the Delano City Council.
Vivas said he wanted to help provide a more positive image of the police department to the community as well as an outlet for the department to express patriotism. He said the decals are not intended to endorse a particular religion or infringe on people’s religious rights.
“Our community is a faith-based community, but again it’s not something where we’re trying to force people to believe in God,” he said. “It’s a sign of patriotism. For people of faith, there’s a deeper appreciation.”
Delano City Councilmember Bryan Osorio was the lone no vote when the city decided to allow the decals.
At the time, Osorio said while he respects the motto he believes there needs to be a healthy separation between church and state.
While Vivas said he was initially looking to get private donations to help pay for the decals so that it wouldn’t have to come out of the city’s coffers, a Delano business owner offered all the materials and labor needed for the project.
Vivas said Juanito Flores, owner of the local business Signmaster, put together the decals and placed them on the patrol cars last weekend.
“I initially went to him just to see if I could get a quote,” Vivas said. “When I told him about what we were trying to do, he said that he wanted to donate the materials and labor to put them on. It touched me. It just goes to show there’s a lot of people like him in the community who appreciates the police department. That’s the kind of people we have here.”
Vivas said factoring in the 50 cars that needed to be outfitted with the decals, the total cost for the decals was about $1,000, at around $20 a piece.
“The police are surveying the community to help make it (better),” Flores said. “I wanted to help out the community. It’s from my heart.”
Since officers have been driving with the decals over the past week, Vivas said the community seems to be responding well to their appearance.
“A lot of people have been very complimentary. Everyone seems to be very appreciative,” he said. “Even those who are not very religious seem to be fine with it. I appreciate their attitude and support."