Sheriff Youngblood: 18.5% KCSO entry-level pay bump is “a good start”

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The Kern County Sheriff and the president of the deputies union said the board of supervisors’ vote to grant a pay bump to entry-level deputies is a step in the right direction, but both acknowledged more work needs to be done.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has long struggled with retention and recruitment, but the supervisors’ unanimous vote to grant an 18.5% pay bump to entry-level deputies could change that.

“This is a good start,” Sheriff Donny Youngblood said on 17 News at Sunrise.

The goal of the increase is to help KCSO compete with the Bakersfield Police Dept. BPD offers its new officers a starting pay of close to $60,000, significantly more than the starting salary of KCSO deputies — just over $45,000. The new plan would guarantee entry-level deputies receive a minimum starting salary of $53,592. 

“This is really putting a band aid on a severed artery,” said Youngblood, noting the salary increase impacts only 22 out of the roughly 500 deputies in the force. 

Kern law enforcement association president Richard Anderson agrees with that assertion.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “In reality it was just a step increment raise for new deputies. They would have got this pay increase 7 months from today if this didn’t even go into effect. So it kind of mislead the public thinking the deputies are getting a raise, where in fact our 500+ deputies have not received a pay increase or cost of living adjustment in 5 years.”  

Anderson said many deputies are leaving the force because of lack of competitive pay.

“Other agencies are offering more money, which is luring our people away in droves. We have lost over 50 people,” Anderson, a sergeant with KCSO, said. “Crime is rampant. It’s out of control. And we’re doing very little. We can blame Sacramento with some of this stuff, but we need to do better,” he continued.

Youngblood and Anderson said there is a strong likelihood that dozens of deputies could leave the force in the coming year if more is not done.

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