Deputy union votes to withdraw endorsement of sheriff candidate Justin Fleeman

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The Kern Law Enforcement Association voted to withdraw its endorsement of Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman in the race for Kern County Sheriff, Fleeman told 17 News.

The petition to withdraw the endorsement for Fleeman was brought to the KLEA board by members at a meeting last week, “due to the divisiveness and negativity” the endorsement caused, according to the petition.  

In a statement released Friday:

The organization’s members, representing more than 500 Deputy Sheriffs and DA Investigators, were asked to choose between maintaining their current endorsement of Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman or withdrawing the endorsement and staying neutral. Members who brought forward the petition expressed disappointment in the Fleeman campaign’s salacious attacks on the Sheriff’s Office as a whole and perceived damage to all of those who wear the uniform.

After putting the question out for individual voting, Kern Law Enforcement Association members voted to withdraw their endorsement of challenger Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman for Sheriff in the June election.

274 KLEA members participated in the survey and 64.9% of those votes were cast to withdraw the current endorsement of Chief Deputy Fleeman.

The organization’s members, representing more than 500 Deputy Sheriffs and DA Investigators, were asked to choose between maintaining their current endorsement of Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman or withdrawing the endorsement and staying neutral. Members who brought forward the petition expressed disappointment in the Fleeman campaign’s salacious attacks on the Sheriff’s Office as a whole and perceived damage to all of those who wear the uniform.

After putting the question out for individual voting, Kern Law Enforcement Association members voted to withdraw their endorsement of challenger Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman for Sheriff in the June election.

274 KLEA members participated in the survey and 64.9% of those votes were cast to withdraw the current endorsement of Chief Deputy Fleeman.

KLEA is the union that represents most sheriff’s deputies. Detention deputies are in a different association.

KLEA endorsed Fleeman in March, according to a press release, rather than current Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

Throughout the campaign, Fleeman has touted the endorsement of several law enforcement and public safety unions including KLEA.

In an interview last week, Fleeman said this decision does not reflect how deputies truly feel about the sheriff’s race.

“Does it hurt my feelings that they did that? It doesn’t,” Fleeman said.

He said top brass in the department have pressured deputies to sign the withdrawal petition.

“I understand, it’s self-preservation,” Fleeman said last week. “They’re trying to make sure that they take care of themselves.”

In a phone interview last week, Sheriff Youngblood said it was “encouraging” to see KLEA members show “integrity and ethics” in bringing forward the re-voting effort.

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