Kern County Sheriff's Office

 

The California Department of Justice announced a settlement Tuesday with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, following a four-year-long investigation into allegations of excessive force and other misconduct.

Among the issues filed: unreasonable stops, searches and seizures, access to services for people with language barriers and how the department addressed public complaints. 

 

The Kern County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to collaborate with a community-led advisory council, officials announced on Tuesday. It will be the first of its kind for the county.

Arleana Waller, the founder of MLK CommUNITY, led the initiative to create the advisory council. She said the main goal is to have a diverse panel of community members to review policies within the department. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Black community leaders in Bakersfield are meeting with law enforcement, and calling for more transparency. They tell us about the push to establish a community police advisory board.

Plus, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in every county in the San Joaquin Valley. We bring you our weekly health update. 

Later, we speak to Fresno violinist Patrick Contreras who told us how he’s kept busy during the pandemic, even after losing every major booking for the year.

Kern County Library Facebook

It's been one month since the death of George Floyd and communities across the country are debating the reallocation of funding from law enforcement agencies to social services. But in Bakersfield this week, the city council voted to increase its police budget and hire more officers. The funding came from Measure N, a sales tax passed by voters in 2018 to address community priorities.

Kern County Library Facebook

The Kern County Library hosted a conversation between the Sheriff’s Office and local African American leaders Wednesday afternoon. 

During the livestream meeting, a series of panelists asked Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood about different incidents and practices in the department. 

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood announced on Tuesday a dozen cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates in the county jail. That’s why the county is now releasing some inmates without bail. 

 

Sheriff Youngblood announced on Facebook the judicial council is requiring the release of some inmates with low level misdemeanors and felonies, with no bail.  

 

Kern County Fire Department Twitter

The Kern County Sheriff's Office recommended evacuation Wednesday afternoon for those within a 6-mile radius of Taft Manufacturing Co. at 19705 South Lake Road in Taft after reports of a chemical leak. Members of the Kern County Fire Department were able to stop the leak early in the afternoon, a spokesman said, but they still have to neutralize and clean up the spilled substance which leaked for at least two hours.

 

Jason Pohl / Sacramento Bee

Since 2014, Kern County sheriffs have been putting more inmates into isolating suicide watch cells. The effort is to reduce suicide risk, but it hasn’t helped.

Instead, deaths by suicide have risen, although these deaths did not happen to inmates who were in suicide watch jails. Those who have died by suicide were not identified as having a suicide risk.

Kern County Sheriff's Department

Kern County's sheriff announced Wednesday the department’s gang unit is shutting down, and one of the driving factors is limited funds.  

 

“We’re running out of people and we’re unable to recruit and retain more than we’re losing,” Sheriff Donny Youngblood says. “So we’re getting smaller and smaller and this is probably just the beginning of more cuts to come.”

 

Six people are dead, including the shooter, after a mass shooting in Bakersfield on Wednesday evening. The spree spanned five crime scenes in East Bakersfield.

According to the Kern County Sheriff’s office, the 35-minute ordeal began near a trucking business close to Highway 58 and State Route 184. There, the suspect allegedly shot and killed two people, including his wife, then pursued another person down the street and killed him near a neighboring sporting goods store.

A new report from the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union claims that the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office have - in the ACLU’s words – "engaged in patterns and practices that violate civil rights" including the excessive use of force.