News & Events

Forum addresses sheriff's staffing levels, deputy retention

By Cara Jackson​   Aug 17, 2017

People who attended a recent Kern Law Enforcement Association-sponsored forum expressed concerns about deputy staffing levels and wondered what the community can do to support deputies and prevent crime.

"Our guys are trying out there as best as possible and get that whole story for you and with the limited resources that we have, we try to make you feel as safe as possible," David Kessler, president of KLEA, said at the Aug. 15 forum held at Kelley's Cafe. KLEA is the union that represents deputies.

The county’s budget for the Sheriff’s Office comes, in part, from a percentage of oil taxes and when the recession hit, funding for the department decreased. This included not hiring as many new deputies, and for a couple of years, an academy wasn't held.

“We lost about $70 to $80 million out of our general fund and a lot of that has impacted the Sheriff’s Department and basically every county department that gets general fund money,” said Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, who attended the forum.

KLEA director Mark Warren, Kessler, Scrivner, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and others addressed public concerns.

Another problem the Sheriff's Office faces is retaining deputies once they have been trained and gone through an academy, according to Kessler.

There are 38 recruits in the current academy who are slated to graduate next month. Many members of the original class left due to not passing written tests, physicals or other factors. It usually takes about one to two years to graduate from the academy and receive field training, Kessler said.

And some, after graduating from the academy and completing field training, leave the department because they can get higher pay elsewhere, said Kessler. He added that over the past few years, 80 to 90 people have gone to other jurisdictions for higher pay.

“We are 11.94 percent under the average (in pay) and to reach the median we are 22.55 percent below and that’s comparing 15 different jurisdictions,” Kessler said.

To address this issue and try to stop people from leaving, the pay scale for recent graduates of an academy was directly raised to step two.

Concerns that deputies are working in dangerous conditions and in remote areas were also addressed. If a call comes in for a deputy and they need back-up, help may only be available from another region, unless there is a highway patrolman in the area, Sheriff Donny Youngblood told Tehachapi News in an Aug. 16 interview.

Scrivner, Youngblood, the Board of Supervisors and others will meet at the County Administrative Office on Aug. 28 to discuss staffing and retention issues.

“It’s a difficult time for all of us right now and I can tell you that the Board of Supervisors is very concerned about this right now and where we are at, as I am, and we are meeting individually with each of them and trying to find a way to train and recruit,” Youngblood said.

Some plans have been proposed already to help add funds to the budget.

“This year we have a strategy where we can close the sheriff’s budget gap. I think without affecting staffing and that’s by civilianizing some positions within the jail and that will save about $3 million,” Scrivner said.

During the forum, Kessler and Warren encouraged the public to report crimes they see immediately. If crime is not reported, the Sheriff's Office may not statistically know how many other deputies are needed.

Also, how quickly deputies can arrive may be impacted by whether higher priority crimes are taking place at the same time. Public awareness of activity in the area they live in is very important. Cameras, alarms, and making the area around your house visible are also good ideas, Kessler said.

“Neighborhood Watches are a great thing. You are your first line of defense and you have to be prepared for that," Youngblood said in the interview. "You have to be prepared to defend yourself until the officer gets there and if you see something, you should call 911, not get involved, but you are the eyes and the ears because we are going to need that information when we get there."

Many members of the public had a chance to voice their concerns and questions.

After the meeting attended by about 20 people, Denise Trone said, “I feel my concerns were addressed and I didn’t know about the oil crisis and how it affected Kern’s budget."

Trone added she was pleased the meeting addressed the public concerns.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Sheriff Donny Youngblood opened up Thursday about two of his former deputies who were sentenced to probation this week for selling drugs they stole from a sheriff's evidence facility.

Youngblood said he's shocked and disgusted that the federal judge didn't give Logan August and Derrick Penneyprison time.

The sheriff said once August and Penney broke the law, they lost the respect of the badge and should be treated like any other criminal.

"The judge treated them as deputy sheriffs, and as police officers. And I’m sorry, when they cross that line, they’re not police officers anymore, they’re not deputy sheriffs anymore," the sheriff said. "They’re crooks, and they should be treated that way."

David Kessler, president of the Kern Law Enforcement Association, echoed Youngblood's statements and said the punishment was not harsh enough.

"We're devastated that they got off so easily," he said.

Kessler said they are always working to create a relationship with the community, and actions like this betray trust.

"For those guys who are going out there every day and doing the right thing, that makes it very difficult," he said.

BPOA sets up PayPal account for Sgt. Moore and his family

By: Morgan Wheeler

Posted: 12:20 PM, Aug 10, 2017

Updated: 6:12 PM, Aug 10, 2017​

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - UPDATE: Thursday 3 p.m.

Sgt. Dennis Moore's passing has been ruled a "line of duty" death.

According to Kern Law Enforcement Association President David Kessler, the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act details a line of duty death. It covers anyone who suffers a heart attack or stroke within 24 hours after a shift that included physical activity or responding to an emergency


Bakersfield Police Officers Association has set up a PayPal account for those that want to donate to Sgt. Moore and his family.

The PayPal site can be accessed through their website where you can click on the donate tab.

They say to please add a note that the donation is for Sgt. Moore and his family.

Union: Kern County supervisors agree to short-term contract for sheriff's deputies

by BakersfieldNow staff | Tuesday, June 6th 2017

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Kern County supervisors on Tuesday approved a three-month contract with sheriff's deputies, according to their union.

The Kern Law Enforcement Association, which represents more than 500 deputies and District Attorney's Office investigators, said negotiations have been ongoing for two years.

KLEA President David Kessler released the following statement:

"While this contract does address some of the issues, it doesn't fully fix some of the major problems with retention, substations closing at night, and deputies working alone to cover hundreds of square miles. This is a start, and we hope the Board continues to recognize the issues and keep the conversation going between us."

He also told Eyewitness News this is a "status-quo" contract. To fight defections to other law enforcement departments, Kessler said the new contract will allow for accelerated pay increases for younger deputies.

Eyewitness News reached out to Sheriff Donny Youngblood for comment.