WASCO, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Sheriff’s Office covers areas across the Golden Empire and that includes Wasco but that may end.

The Wasco City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to create its own police department.

This comes as the Kern County Sheriff’s Office has been stretched thin, struggling to fill its vacancies.

Wasco City Council voted to hire three critical staff members for the new police department as well as approve a $600,000 starting budget.

“For a long time residents have been wanting this for our city,” Wasco City Councilman Alex Garcia said. “It’s a chief and two other officers that will be tasked with setting up the timeline, doing the research and providing that information to our city manager.”

The plan is still in its beginning steps. As for its location, it could be right in the center of town but that’ll be decided in later after the new team is hired.

“We moved forward with the purchase of some land in the southwest portion of town for some wells, a future public works yard and maybe even a new animal shelter,” Garcia said. “That then allows potential for a little bit of musical buildings with what we currently have.”

Garcia said the Kern County Sheriff’s Office will still be present in Wasco for the time being.

Wasco community members say they haven’t been too happy with KCSO and think the new police department can’t come soon enough.

“When you call they take forever. If they’re right here it’ll be faster I can imagine and it’ll be safer,” Araceli Barrera, a Wasco community member, said.

“When you call 911 the sheriff’s department doesn’t respond quickly. They aren’t there when you need them,” Roberto Rodriguez, a Wasco community member, said.

The plan is in its preliminary phase and we’ll be sure to keep you updated about any changes.