What's next for the embattled McFarland Police Department?

McFARLAND, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - In its five years in existence, the McFarland Police Department has gone through three police chiefs and is looking to hire its fourth.

"It's a small community," said Gene Reviea, who runs a fruit stand on Elmo Highway. "It's not unusual, I don't think trying to find the right person for the right job, so I think it'll eventually work out."

The Kern County Sheriff's Office provided protection for McFarland for 17 years. But, in 2009, the city dropped the sheriff's office and restarted a police department as a cost-saving measure.

Back then, the sheriff's office was costing the city $1.6 million a year. But, the latest numbers from the city show that $2 million was spent for public safety in fiscal year 2013-14 and $2.1 is budgeted for 2014-15.

The results so far have been less than stellar.

The first chief, David Frazer, resigned with less than a year on the job amid conflicts with then-city manager Bob Wilburn.

The next chief, David Oberhoffer, was fired for unknown reasons.

Greg Herrington was appointed chief in 2011 and resigned effective July 1.

City leaders have not commented about Herrington's departure.

As previously reported, Herrington had been fired from two previous police departments.

The No. 2 man in charge, Commander Steven Nieves, also left just days after Herrington's departure. A member of the Army Reserve, Nieves was deployed overseas. But, he remains an employee of the police department.

Nieves also has a misdemeanor criminal conviction for false imprisonment in San Bernardino County.

Despite the leadership problems at the police department, some McFarland residents feel the department has done a good job.

"Everything is good, they don't bother me," said Porfirio Hernandez, whose lived in McFarland for 27 years.

Others wonder if the city would be better served by bringing back the sheriff's deputies to patrol the city.