Leaders with the Kern Law Enforcement Association (KLEA) spoke at the Kern County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday to demand what they describe as better hours and higher pay.
More than 100 Kern County Sheriff’s deputies attended the meeting where they complained to the supervisors about being overworked and lacking necessary resources. Following the session, most in attendance staged a walkout, demanding the supervisors act.
“We’re all demanding that the Board of Supervisors provide a fair and equitable contract to the deputies of Kern County,” said KLEA President Tim Caughron. “This very much is a public safety issue,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have the staff to fill all of our positions and fulfill all of our functions. The department is relying on overtime to do that.”
Caughron also said the KLEA is in the process of negotiating with the county, noting a previous offer from the county providing a two-and-a-half percent pay raise was turned down due to disagreements regarding overtime, and the elimination of an incentive program for new deputies.
Families joined their deputy relatives at the meeting. “It has affected our family tremendously,” said stay-at-home mom Chelsea Harker. She is the wife of a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy, and the mother of two children. “[My husband] is gone for all hours of the day and night – sometimes longer – sometimes the children don’t get to spend time with him, and finances can be a little bit crippling,” she said.
Meanwhile, County Supervisor Mike Maggard listened to the group’s concerns, and offered his concerns.
“We want our deputies to be compensated effectively and rewarded for the work they do, and to know that they are appreciated,” he said.
Further contract negotiations between KLEA and the county are set to take place next Monday.