BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Board of Supervisors approved of a 22% annual pay increase for Kern County Sheriff’s Office detention deputies Tuesday. This is an effort to take one step forward in addressing public safety concerns.

“This is the first step, I believe, for us to start addressing the overall public safety issues that we have in the county, but it starts I believe with the detention deputies, and I think that that’s been the missing component,” Second District Kern County Board of Supervisor Zack Scrivner said.

The 22% pay raise is to help retain officers and hire more people who want to work in detentions. More detention officers will solve a problem that Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop says the county has been trying to tackle.

“We have a number of empty jail beds that are unstaffed and unused even though we built a brand-new jail facility because of this problem,” Alsop said.

For the last few years, according to Alsop, approximately 95 sheriff deputies were working in detentions to make up for the lack of detention officers taking them off the streets.

“The sheriff had to do away with its gang enforcement unit a few years ago, it wasn’t because he didn’t have the funding it’s because he didn’t have the officers and he didn’t have the officers because he was having to fix this problem in detentions and moving officers to do detentions functions,” Alsop said.

However, Alsop shares that this is the first step of many to come to addressing public safety in Kern.

“We’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about public safety, we’ve heard from residents that it’s a high priority, rising crime, response times, etcetera, I think all of that is going to be addressed through this effort.”

For those interested in working as a detention deputy, there will be a Kern County Detention Officers Association recruitment event on Jan. 25. Find out more at The Kern County Sheriff’s Office website.