WATSONVILLE—Two new police officers will officially hit the streets this weekend in Watsonville to begin their 20-week field training phase. 

Michaela Barnett and Juan Castillo wrapped up their in-house training on Jan. 3, and will now work in tandem with a field training officer for 18 weeks before they are cut loose on their own as a fully trained officer.

“I’ve grown up in this city my whole life and I love this city a lot,” Barnett, 23, said. “This will be my way to give back and to give me a better understanding of this place and what this career is like. I just want to go out and help this great city.” 

Her father, Mike Barnett, retired from the Watsonville Police Department as a sergeant several years ago.

Castillo, 24, said he was excited to have completed the training academy and was anxious to start his new career.

“I have a strong community background over in Hollister, like at the YMCA where I did a lot of community work,” he said. “The academy was tough but I liked the challenge.”

Michelle Pulido of WPD said Castillo and Barnett graduated the academy Dec. 20 and are currently in a five-month field training program.

Once they complete their training, they and four others in various training stages will add up to full staff for WPD.

Other officers in training: 

• Officer/ Trainee Evan Umstead was sworn-in to the WPD Dec. 20. He joins WPD with five years of law enforcement experience in Hollister and is also in the field training program.

• Officers/ Trainees Eric Perez and Jonathan Zamora graduated from the academy in August are still in our field training program.

• Academy Recruit Kimberly Rule, who interned at WPD, is set to start the police academy Monday.

All six trainees are Central Coast residents.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.