The president of the Kern Law Enforcement Association says that low wages are a major factor in the shortage of Kern County Sheriff's Office deputies.
"People are leaving every day, every week," said Sgt. David Kessler.
"There's more and more deputies leaving to other areas. And not even new deputies, ones with experience."
Kessler says there are over 70 vacancies in the sheriff's department. Those 70 openings compose at least 10% of the department.
Kessler says the sheriff's department doesn't offer wages that are competitive with other departments.
"On average we're seeing about a 15% lower salary than some other comparable counties and cities in our geographical area and abroad throughout the state," said Kessler.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors determines the salaries for the deputies.
"Unfortunately, we're suffering for it," said Kessler.
"Good people are leaving. We're becoming a training ground for newer hirers. They're coming in, getting the training paid for by the sheriff's department and then after their year, they're leaving to places that pay more."
But despite the talent leaving the sheriff's department, Kessler says there shouldn't be concerns about the quality of remaining deputies here.
"It's not an issue because we've got a great training program. Our officers that train are very experienced still. There's good supervision still out there."