For the first time in six years, Kern County detention deputies will be receiving a raise.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved raises for the majority of the county’s detention officers, hoping to stanch the flow of employees out of the Sheriff’s Office.
“It really is an extraordinary measure for the board to agree to something like this during a fiscal crisis,” said county Chief Human Resources Officer Devin Brown. “We felt like it was absolutely necessary. We couldn’t ignore this any longer.”
Deputies stationed at the county’s jails are eligible for 5 percent increases in their salaries every 12 months, five times, as long as they meet performance benchmarks.
The new raise will add a sixth instance in which deputies can receive a 5 percent salary increase.
For detention deputies at the highest level of pay, the new raise could take them from earning $4,602 per month to a monthly intake of $4,837.
"I think it's a great thing," said Dustin Alkire, president of the Kern County Detention Officers Association. "It's not a hundred percent where we want to be, but it's a big step in the right direction."
A total of 205 detention deputies will be eligible for the raise at some point within the next 12 months.
The raises are expected to cost the county $1.6 million per year, and will become available on July 1.
Over the last several years, the county has experienced a 20 percent turnover rate among detention deputies, according to the county, jeopardizing the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to maintain minimum staffing levels at local jails.
Brown said that over the last few years, the county had been backfilling unfilled positions with overtime pay, a costly strategy.
“This will help alleviate that,” he said.
The last raise occurred in 2013, when the detention deputies received a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.
The law enforcement raises have not only been given to detention deputies.
In another attempt to combat retention issues, supervisors recently approved an 18.5 percent pay increase for entry-level deputies.
The move took new deputies from roughly $45,000 per year to $53,000, which is about the pay for entry-level officers in the Bakersfield Police Department.
Sheriff’s officials have said for months that deputies in Kern County earn less than those in other areas, and more raises could be required to increase morale in the department and prevent people from leaving.