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Few people would ever call Hollister Police Chief David Westrick shy or the least bit reserved. He is, perhaps, the most public lawman around, sharing uncensored glimpses of his love of kittens, horses, rodeos, all things related to the Giants, struggling with weight training regimens, country music, Game of Thrones, the Dune books, and his real heroes like Navy SEAL Michael Murphy, who adorns the chief’s Facebook page.

Westrick is an unabashed fan of technology and social media in its many forms. He posts almost non-stop on Facebook. He shares his thoughts on a wide range of topics via live streaming and blogging. He constantly absorbs information from a number of sources, but in particular, he is a fan of the TED Talks series, in which scientists, educators, philosophers, politicians, and just plain folks with something interesting to say have a worldwide platform to share their knowledge and expertise with millions of fellow epistemophiles, or those who have a love for knowledge.

When Westrick was offered the chance to speak at TEDx, an offshoot of TED that was created to support independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own communities, it wouldn’t surprise many who know him that he didn’t hesitate, even for an instant. The journey to TEDx began about three years ago when he was watching a TED talk and spotted a familiar face, Michele Serna, whom he knew from rodeo competitions and was a friend of his daughter.

“I watched her TED talk and it was an important topic about body image,” Westrick told BenitoLink. “It was an amazing TED talk. I told her how proud I was of her. Fast forward to about a year ago and she got ahold of me and said she was putting together a forum in Salinas, and that I was one of the first people she thought of for TEDx Salinas.”

Even though he had watched several TED Talk episodes, Westrick said he hadn’t really thought of doing one himself. After Serna asked him to participate, he began to think about what he had to say that might be of interest to a TED Talk audience.

“What drew me to what I finally did was a result of thinking about all the violence out there and knowing in my line of work there are so many good people who love serving the public and live for it each day,” he said. “I wanted to convey that feeling and I did a talk on ‘serving and loving mankind,’ from my perspective as a police chief.”

It took Westrick a couple months to put his thoughts down on paper and to rehearse what he wanted to say. In February, he stood before an audience of about 100 people and gave his TEDx talk, which is now on YouTube and can be viewed below.

“It was an interesting process,” he said. “TED requires a lot of technology when it comes to production values, in that they should all have the same feel and the quality of the video. I spent a lot of time in the green room and back in production just to see how that went.”

Doing a TEDx Talk and being a TED fan initially made Westrick somewhat more nervous than he normally would be in front of studio cameras. But after getting to go behind the scenes and seeing how the show was put together, he said he wasn’t nervous at all when he stepped on the stage at the Salinas Sports Complex to give his talk.

“I did it in one take,” he said. “I was able to do that because I’m very passionate about the topic and I knew it cold. My talk is raw, unedited, because I wanted people to see it was authentic.”

Westrick said the typical TEDx involves 10 to 15 speakers giving presentations on a whole slew of topics. He said there were self-help experts, a boy from Pakistan talking about his life’s journey, and a woman speaking about food waste. He was in a group of four speakers and spoke last. He was introduced by Serna, who was the curator for the program. The typical TED talk is from 10 to 15 minutes in duration.

Westrick said he enjoyed the experience so much he plans on speaking again at TEDx, but he wants to wait a year.

“I have a couple ideas and I definitely want to do another one, but I’m not sure if it will be in Salinas, Monterey, or wherever,” he said.

Westrick said that if anyone wants to hear his, or the other speakers’ talks, they are located at TEDx Salinas website. His talk is viewable below.


YouTube video


John Chadwell worked as a feature, news and investigative reporter for BenitoLink on a freelance basis for seven years, leaving the role in Sept. 2023. Chadwell first entered the U.S. Navy right out of...