Regional Awards of Merit presented to retiring police chief and longtime oil industry representative


Two men who have served Taft and the Westside for decades received the Kern County Council of Governments' most prestigious honors last week.

Retiring Taft Chief of Police Ed Whiting was awarded the Richard A. Maxwell Regional Award of Merit for Public Safety and Les Clark Jr., who has been involved in numerous private and public organizations in his long career, received the Richard E. Brummett Award of Merit of Lifetime Achievement.

The awards were presented March 1 in the annual Kern COG Regional Awards of Merit held at Seven Oaks Country Club in Bakersfield.

Both men were nominated by the City of Taft.
Whiting is retiring after a 32-year career with the Taft Police Department where he rose through the ranks from patrolman to Chief.

He comes from law enforcement family. His oldest brother George was a three-term elected sheriff for San Luis Obispo County and another brother is a retired Kern County Sheriff's sergeant.

His father was involved in communications and then Kern County communications center is named the “William E. Whiting Communications Center”.

He held just about every position in the department, including two stints in the city-operated Community Correctional facility, and served as a patrol officer, senior patrol officer, detective, sergeant and lieutenant in the patrol division before becoming chief five years ago.

Whiting's nomination letter outlined a few more of his accomplishments in Taft

"He was instrumental in forming the City of Taft Police Department's close working relationship with the Kern County Sheriff’s Department back in the 1980’s that is still in existence today," the letter states. "Ed is also instrumental in the City’s ability to continually procure items to assist the City with its disaster preparedness, often utilizing the 1033 Program which transfers excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. During his tenure at Taft Police Department, Ed has been a part of programs such as the Shop with a Cop, the Annual 911 Series at Kern County Raceway Park, the implementation of local Crime Mapping, and Coffee with a Cop."

Clark is widely known for his work representing and lobbying for the oil industry through his position with the Independent Oil Producers Agency for 35 years but he's also known for his involvement with education, youth sports and community activities locally.

In his potion with IOPA, Clark became an essential representative for the oil industry in dealing with government regulators from Bakersfield to sacramento to Washington D.C.

Even though he retired in December, he continues his work and drove to the Kern COG Awards from Sacramento.

Clark served on the Taft Union High School board for nearly three decades and is now on the Taft City School District Board.

Locally, he has been involved in Taft Chamber of Commerce, The Fort Preservation Society Board of Directors, Taft Oilfield Worker’s Monument Committee, West Side District Hospital Foundation, West Kern Oil Museum and Westside Recreation and Parks District.

He has a long history of working with the westside little league and is in the league's Hall of

Fame, Clark was a long-time and well respected football official and and member of the Kern County Officials Hall of Fame.