BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kern Law Enforcement Association says local deputies have rejected a contract offer from the county.
According to KLEA, the offer contained a 2.5% salary increase including changes to overtime payments and the elimination of an incentive program to new members.
The Kern Law Enforcement Association released a statement in response to the contract.
"Kern Law Enforcement Association representing more than 500 Deputy Sheriffs and District Attorney Investigators in Kern County, have rejected an insulting contract offer from the Kern County Board of Supervisors. 95% of KLEA members resoundingly rejected the offer that contained a 2.5% salary increase offset by negative changes to overtime payments and elimination of an incentive program to new members. This offer fails to address the very real issues that are causing historically low staffing and morale within the Sheriff's Office. The current offer would have caused more of our deputies to leave for better paying agencies and would have severely impacted the public's safety by further reducing the number of deputies working for the Sheriff's Office.
"Kern County Deputy Sheriffs have not received a net salary increase since 2008," stated Tim Caughron, KLEA president. "This offer was rejected by 95% of our members. After 10 years of never-ending excuses, our members' welfare and safety cannot wait another year-and-a-half. The Board of Supervisors recognizes that we are compensated well below Bakersfield Police Department, yet this offer does nothing to bring us to a competitive level with our next-door neighbor, which was said to be a priority."
For many years, Kern County politicians have failed to properly staff the Sheriff's Office with deputies, causing the department to operate well below minimum safe staffing levels. It is a routine occurrence for deputies to be held over after their shifts and to be denied time off due to abysmally deficient staffing. "The Sheriff's Office cannot currently fulfill its mandated duties and functions without the use of overtime personnel, yet the County is determined to find a way for our members to reduce overtime costs instead of the County reducing their overtime dependency" stated President Caughron.
The Board of Supervisors seem content to allow deputies to continue to be the lowest paid in the San Joaquin Valley; to continue to be overworked and understaffed due to deputies fleeing to better-paying agencies. Sheriff Deputies can no longer afford to agree to offers that do nothing to solve the problem. "This offer fails to even keep up with inflation and would have accelerated the exodus of deputies from the Kern County Sheriff's Office. This offer rejection is a clear mandate. It is past time for the Board of Supervisors to get serious about law enforcement in Kern County and prioritize the need to support and increase the effectiveness of the Kern County Sheriff's Office"
We've reached out for a comment from the county and are waiting to hear back at this time.