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McFarland Police Department looks to relocate into the city’s library building

Kern County Library McFarland Branch (FILE)
Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 21:10:17-04

MCFARLAND, Calif. (KERO) — Following the announcement of expanded hours for the McFarland Library, some though that may have meant the McFarland Police Department was no longer interested in taking over the building. It now seems that may not be the case.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors held a meeting to discuss the McFarland Police Department’s continued push to take over the building currently operating as the city’s library.

“We have far outgrown our police building, and we’re in dire need of a larger structure to allow us to appropriately address the needs of public safety in our community,” said McFarland Police Chief Kenneth Williams.

Williams said the size of the police department’s current operation is “not conducive” to improving the police force, and explained that while the department is in need of a new location, time and money play a factor as to why the library is the best choice for relocating the police department.

“Timeliness. We need it now,” Williams said. “We don’t need it five years down the road. We need to do something now, and the cost of the building, we don’t have a lot of money.”

McFarland Library Branch Manager Amber Clarksean says she does not believe the library building is the best option for a new police station and would be better served by having a new police station more suited to the needs of a modern police department.

Clarksean also adds that the presence of the library brings crime rates down overall, not just in the present, but in the future.

“I believe that a library in general does help reduce crime,” said Clarksean. “Because of the library, the children have a different place to go.”

Williams counters that building a station would take too long, saying the police department is running out of room right now.

“Officers must share a small office, and I have sergeants that share one small office as well,” said Williams. “The property room is significantly overgrown. We are forced to store some of our property actually on the exterior parts of our building.”

Michael Turnipseed, Executive Director of the Kern County Taxpayers Association disagrees with Williams, saying the library is too important a community resource to be removed from its current space.

“Closing the library or moving it into a smaller reduced footprint is not what we need to do when we are trying to develop a workforce,” said Turnipseed.

As of Tuesday, no decision has been made, but supervisors say they will be talking with the McFarland Police Department to determine what will be happening next.