Kern County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Shelly Castaneda to retire after 28 years in public service


She dedicated her career to public service for nearly three decades. Now, Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Shelly Castaneda is ready for the next portion of her life, retiring after 28 years with KCSO.

Castaneda joined the force in 1991. She has worked nearly every beat in the sheriff’s department.

“We are proud of you,” said third district Supervisor Mike Maggard as Castaneda was honored for her service at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “We will miss you. You are a great role model for all of us. Thank you.”

Deputy Chief Castaneda said she was grateful for her years with the department.

“I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with you and to serve our community, and I thank you for that opportunity,” she said in the chambers. “It’s been a great career, and a true blessing, and I wouldn’t have picked any other path,” Castaneda continued.

Seven years ago, she earned a second star on her collar, advancing her to chief deputy sheriff, the third highest rank in the department.  She was just the second woman to hold the position; Rosemary Wahl was the first woman to hold the rank.

“It’s important to see that law enforcement has a very big place for women,” Castaneda said. “We have a lot of great qualities that make us effective in what we do in law enforcement, so that’s been a really big thing for me. I’ve always done my best to be a mentor and role model for younger ladies coming up through the ranks.”
During her career, Castaneda spearheaded many projects, including efforts to ensure that each deputy sheriff receive training on how to react to individuals suffering from mental illness.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood said her work vastly improved the department. 

“It’s an honor to have her work for the Sheriff’s Office and for me,” he said. “She really has done remarkable stuff. She lead the organization in fitness. No one is stronger than her.”

Castaneda is an award-winning body builder, and she twice beat breast cancer.

But she noted she’s ready to look ahead to the next portion of her life, and is already thinking about what day one of retirement will look like this Friday.

“[I will] probably just have coffee, hang out with my husband, go to the gym, and go from there.”

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