BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It’s been a busy few months for the Kern County Sheriff's Office. 23ABC spoke with Sheriff Donny Youngblood, discussing how the agency has been holding up amid the pandemic, and the lasting effects of last months George Floyd protests.
Youngblood says the pandemic has not prevented deputies from doing their job in any way, but still, he says there have been some challenges.
“Social distancing and masks are not always gonna work for us. Providing public safety, it’s what we face," he said.
Amid the pandemic, Kern County Sheriff's deputies are remaining vigilant, according to Youngblood. That means taking precautions while interacting with members of the public and with inmates at correctional facilities. Youngblood says about 2 dozen KCSO employees have tested positive for the virus so far, most being detention deputies at correctional facilities.
A few patrolling deputies have also been infected.
“We’re up close and personal with a lot of people and we haven't had a lot of positive tests from that part of the house," the Sheriff said.
Youngblood says all employees are recovered and back to work, although he says one inmate who tested positive at a Kern facility is currently in quarantine.
Another major thing on KCSO’s plate as of late were the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. Youngblood says the protests have led his office to form an advisory council which will consist of about 20 local, diverse, leaders and organizations.
“There are people out there who believe this organization is racist, there are people who believe I am a racist, I don't need to defend myself, but I want to defend my organization," he said.
Youngblood says the advisory council is in the planning stages right now, but will eventually provide a necessary line of communication.
"Communicating with our community can only make us better. We can empathize with what they feel, and what they say. And they can do the same with us. So I think we’re on a path to doing things better," Youngblood said.