BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Four members of the Kern County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Council have resigned their seats, claiming the panel and sheriff’s officials had “reached an impasse.”
“I feel like there was a subset of us who kept our focus on the streets, who kept our ears to the ground, who kept our hearts in the true actual work, and then there was a subset of us that was there because they were simply mentioned in black and white,” said Former co-chair Dr. Tiara King. A day after, she and three other members, including the chair, resigned from the Kern County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Council because disruptions overshadowed the work.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood held a press conference Friday and shared that the ACLU and the Dolores Huerta Foundation were the cause of these disruptions. Stressing the resignations were not connected to the docuseries “Killing County,” which examines alleged police corruption.
“It took us two-and-a-half years to build trust and a relationship to be torn down by a group of people who have a different agenda than we do,” said Youngblood.
The council was formed in 2020 to help strengthen communication and generate trust between the community and the sheriff’s office. However, both say tense and hostile meetings deciding how to do that stopped progress altogether.
“It was like we’d make it inch and get drug in a different direction,” said King.
“It became so disruptive that after one hour we had not done anything,” said Youngblood.
As for the four members, Youngblood had nothing but positive words. Claiming that over the last two years of working together, the council has improved relations between the community and the sheriff’s office.
“All four members that were an integral part of going forward and they were instrumental in helping us become better at what we do,” said Youngblood.
Now King and the other members plan to move forward.
“Our work will continue, just not under the capacity of a stipulated agreement or under the capacity of having or being forced to work under terms that your core values and mission driven values don’t align with,” said King.
17 News received no response from the Dolores Huerta Foundation, but did receive a statement from the ACLU:
While the resignation over differences of opinion by certain members is unfortunate, we disagree with Sheriff Youngblood that the committee will have to be rebooted and start from scratch. Many of the advisory’s members have already put in long hours of work. Instead, this is an opportunity to consider how the CAC can be more inclusive of people directly impacted by KCSO abuse and violence.
What the sheriff characterizes as “disruptive” is simply an attempt to undermine the efforts by those who are most impacted by the abuse and violence by KCSO — efforts to ensure that there is real transparency and accountability in the process.
The sheriff is upset that his self-described “friends” resigned. But we will not allow for a committee that will rubberstamp superficial reforms to KCSO that will accomplish nothing. We demand meaningful change, and we will remain vocal until that happens, and we expect the same of our fellow CAC members.ACLU