A shortage of cops is an issue Kern County has been long seeing—local cops leaving for higher-paying agencies elsewhere.
“Our community has very real public safety challenges, and resources are a vital part of our ability and our commitment to the community,” said Bakersfield Police interim chief, Greg Terry. “Staffing is a big part of it.”
BPD is working toward its goal of hiring 100 new officers in the next three years.
This week, 25 new officers graduated from its academy, the first class since the passage of Measure N.
Passed by voters, the one-cent sales tax increase will bolster BPD staff.
“These are not things we can do instantly,” said BPD Sergeant Nathan McCauley. “It takes time to be able to recruit, go through the application process, background process to put people through an academy. We don’t want to do so in a hurry at the risk of compromising standards. We don’t want bad police officers.”
Over at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, they don’t have increased funds from something like Measure N.
“Recruitment for law enforcement agencies overall is very competitive,” said KCSO chief deputy, Larry McCurtain. “All of us are hiring and recruiting from the same pool of applicants.”
In September, a new contract was approved that made KCSO the highest-paid law enforcement agency in Kern County, offering a three to ten percent raise for members.
“We believe it’s going to be positive and it’s going to be good, and hopefully attract a larger applicant pool,” McCurtain said.
In February, KCSO will hold the first training academy since the new contract. It is yet to be seen if the higher pay will attract more potential deputies.