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City, county might both turn to tax increases to increase law enforcement presence

City Manager Alan Tandy speaks about tax proposals and his plan to hire additional police officers Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

The city of Bakersfield wants to hire about 100 police officers using funding from a proposed sales tax increase, set to appear on the November ballot.

That hiring plan might create some uneasy feelings with the sheriff, dealing with his own staffing issues and competing for a limited number of applicants.

At Wednesday's State of the City luncheon, City Manager Alan Tandy announced plans to hire the officers if voters approve the 1-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.

“We did a comparison of the sworn staffing to population ratios in the 20 largest cities in California, and Bakersfield had the lowest ratio, the smallest police force per 1000 people,” said Tandy.

The city manager said the increased police presence would help them combat issues that have plagued the city for years: “We have high burglary rates, high auto theft rates, we have a persistent gang-related issue and problem."

Meanwhile, Sheriff Donny Youngblood is pushing for a county tax bump to help fuel his own hiring.

“(Deputies) haven’t had a pay raise in nine, 10 years," the sheriff said. "We’ve lost 150 (deputies) over the past five years. They’re going to continue to leave. It’s a very competitive market."

Tandy said the city isn’t out to poach officers from the Sheriff's Office and that the vast majority of their hires in recent years have been new hires and not transfers from the Sheriff's Office.

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