Luis Cardenas, a retired Parole Agent, is receiving the Gold Star during the 2023 Governor’s Medal of Valor ceremony June 21. The US Army veteran spent 23 years in the military before joining CDCR. Cardenas retired late last year after 20 years with the department.
In December 2020, Parole Agent Cardenas single handedly arrested an active shooter at a Walmart Store at Fashion Plaza in Bakersfield.
Beginning in 2002, he worked at Correctional Training Facility then transferred to Wasco State Prison-Reception Center. Cardenas promoted to sergeant in 2009. He later transferred to the Division of Adult Parole Operations, working in Los Angeles and Kern counties.
Inside CDCR caught up with Cardenas to discuss retirement and what he thinks about this latest honor.
Congratulations on retirement. What have you been up to?
I have been trying to stay busy and active. Currently,I have a couple of part time jobs that get me out of the house a few times a week. I am working security for the Chargers and Rams at SOFI Stadium. It involves walking throughout the entire game and working with other current and former peace officers. I have also taken my family to Costa Rica and Belize in the last year with more travel planned for the near future.
Bee keeping is a known hobby of yours. How are the bees doing?
I recently convinced a family member to place a hive at her home. We now have three hives that are healthy and appear to be thriving. I check them often to look for parasites and ensure larva (future bees) are present. A former co-worker and his son have also come over to help work the hive. It is a calming and stress-relieving hobby.
You received the 2023 Governor’s Gold Star Medal of Valor for single handedly stopping a store shooting. How did CDCR prepare you for that moment?
I believe prison work and 23 years of military service prepared me for what took place. Often, I found myself in a place where there was no time to think about possible outcomes or to wait for assistance. I acted mostly on instinct as training kicks in. I moved quickly to recover the weapon and address two persons that I recognized as immediate threats. No one was hurt at the scene and the store employees were thankful for my actions.
What is next for you? Any plans for the near future?
I am not making long term plans. It takes some time to get used to not being in the parole office. I miss the work and the brotherhood/sisterhood that comes with working in law enforcement. I will try to stay active and enjoy retirement.