10 Minutes with Tipton originated in January 2022 on the Education Page. Students in the After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program at Tipton Elementary School take time to Zoom with individuals in the community to ask them questions about their jobs, lives and strategies they can use in their own lives to help them become college and career ready.
What is your job title/role in our community?
Jake Castellow, Chief of Police, City of Porterville
Please tell us a little bit about yourself — Your background, where you grew up, your family.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 27 years. I was born in Newport Beach and was raised in Woodlake, which is on the other side of the county near Exeter and Three Rivers. I went to Woodlake High School. I started my career in public safety 29 years ago as a firefighter and I drove an ambulance. I attended College of the Sequoias and I earned a degree in administration of justice. Later, I attended the police academy.
During the last 27 years as a police officer, I’ve worked in so many different assignments as a K9 handler, as a narcotics detective where I worked undercover. I worked as a field training officer where I trained new officers. I was also on the SWAT team and I commanded the team later on, which is the overall leader of the SWAT team. I was assigned to the negotiations team, which is a part of the SWAT team that talks to the people and tries to get them to come out of the house. I was the administrative sergeant where I worked for the chief, a role in which I learned a different part of the department, the administrative part. I learned how the police department worked inside of the building. It gave me a really broad perspective on how the police department runs and functions with the rest of the city. I was also promoted through the ranks from sergeant, then lieutenant, then captain and then I’ve worked the last year and a half as chief. The chief is the person in charge of all of the employees at the department.
There are a lot of different divisions in the department, such as patrol (who drive around in police cars in uniform) and then detectives (who make up the investigations division — plain clothes, narcotics, gangs) then the services division which is records, dispatch, animal control, evidence all of those other things that don’t normally fit into the other divisions.
I ran all of those divisions before I became the chief. There are 120 employees in our department, which is quite a few people.
I went to college and graduated with a bachelor's degree because education and training are really important to me.
I am married to my wife Shawnie and we have a 23 year old daughter, Meghan. She attended Cal State Fullerton and works in Porterville as a teacher.”
What do you love about your career?
“One of the biggest things I love about my career is the people I meet. This is the fun part of my job talking to people. I also love the brotherhood and sisterhood of law enforcement. You build a bond with people and I spend more time with these people than with my own family. This is my second family. I love this police department like it’s my own family and I love this city.”
What do you dislike about your career?
“No one ever calls the police department to say ‘We’re having a good day.’ Most of the time people call us because they’re having a problem and we sometimes see bad things and we try to help those people who are in need, but most of the time we’re trying to help somebody. I’m not saying I hate or dislike it because that’s what we do, but I think seeing the bad things day in and day out wears on people.”
Would you encourage others to pursue your career?
“Yes, I would. I think I would encourage anybody to pursue a career because of the traditions law enforcement has and it’s an honorable career. It has an emphasis on helping people and protecting others. I would encourage anybody who wants to help others to pursue this career.”
What is something that might surprise members of the public (either about you, or your career)?
“I think one of the things that surprise most people when I go talk to different groups in the city is that I was invited to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico. When I talk to people they don’t realize you have to be nominated to go and you have to live in Quantico for three months away from your family and they don’t realize that. I met people from all over the world. I went in 2017 and still talk to people I went to the academy with weekly. One of my best friends was my roommate at the academy.”
What advice do you have for young people who might be pursuing your line of work?
“I think one of the things that I would most often tell people about law enforcement is to pursue your education. Also, to always be careful of your life decisions because you never know, especially now with Facebook and Snapchat, you never know when that stuff will come back up. Even at your age you really have to make sure you’re doing the right things when no one is looking. Be careful on social media with your posts.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“In 10 years I’ll be retired, but I will always do something because it’s good to keep your mind busy. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I won’t be doing this because I’ve done it for so long. Maybe I will be teaching at the college, I don’t know, but I will be doing something.”
Anything else you would like to add? (Maybe a current, or past project you’re proud of?)
I am very happy and very proud of the Porterville Police Department. The police department isn’t a great department because of me, it’s great because of the people that work here and serve in the city and who are keeping the people safe here in the city of Porterville. The dedication of the people working here in this police department with me is something I’m super proud of.”
Alan Osoria and Frank Guzman are both seventh graders at Tipton Elementary School in the After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program. Alan enjoys playing football and going outside to play games with friends. Frank enjoys playing soccer.