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Board approves KCSO raise making it 'highest paid local law enforcement in Kern County'

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 02:39:21-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is offering a $10 million raise to the Kern County Sheriff's Office.

According to a proposal summary from the Director of Countywide Communications, "these salary range adjustments to become highest paid local law enforcement in Kern County and include Fitness Pay and F step into an elevated base salary range."

In addition, the proposed raise also looks to include a $400 increase in uniform allowance, and a $10,000 recruitment bonus for new Deputy Sheriff appointees.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood attended the board session and told 23ABC News that he needs to review the figures, but said the proposal is a step positive step.

"We're headed in the right direction," Youngblood said. This is going to be a huge step forward in my ability to recruit, retain and to keep officers, once they come to work here. We won't just train people to watch them leave," he added.

Youngblood says when he was first elected 12 years ago, finances weren’t at the top of mind.

“And then we ran out of money, and we've been out of money for 10 years. It's been very, very difficult to manage an organization and to watch it get smaller and smaller. Field the calls everyday from people frustrated because of our response time, if we responded at all," Youngblood said.

That’s why Youngblood, and many others are welcoming the money, which, in addition to deputy raises, will also fund a new Sheriff’s deputy training academy. But it also may lead some to question where the extra $10 million is coming from.

“Could have been a combination of a lot of places. They do have significant reserves. They generally have carryovers which is for all the departments, the ending balances for all the departments that they don't spend," said Michael Turnipseed, of the Kern County Taxpayers Association.

The raise may be a sign that the county is doing better financially, according to Turnipseed.

“I think it’s a positive step that the economy has gotten better for the county, their financial situation is, it’s been a four-year plan where they’ve cut, cut, cut, and now I guess they feel now they can spend a little bit and invest in the police department," he said.

Turnipseed says those balances can be as much as 30 or 40 million depending on the year. But Youngblood says even with some extra money, things won’t be turned around overnight.

“We now have to start our academies, get people going through the academy, get them through field training, we’re two or three years from really being normal but we’re certainly headed in the right direction," Youngblood said.

The Kern Law Enforcement Association says they still need to approve the proposal.