Sheriff Youngblood says his ready to take on challenges of new role

Sheriff Youngblood says his ready to take on challenges of new role
Sheriff Donny Youngblood says now that he is in office he needs to put his knowledge and experience with the Kern County Sheriff's Department to work.

Youngblood was sworn in as the new sheriff Monday afternoon at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Many Kern County leaders and officials were on hand to mark the event. Also there, entertainers Merle Haggard and Charles Napier.

Before Youngblood officially took over the Sheriff's Department, he was already handling the politics of the position. Last week, County Supervisor Michael Rubio suggested Youngblood triple the number of deputies in the Gang Task Force. It is a move District Attorney Ed Jagels noted during his speech. "I had to be sworn in before I got into my first fight with a county supervisor," said Jagels.

Youngblood says fighting gang violence is one of his top priorities. "We have a couple meetings scheduled this afternoon. We're working on Mr. Rubio's proposal to add gang officers and we're working on that today," said Youngblood.

The new sheriff also talked about fixing the problem of overcrowded jails in Kern County. The Sheriff's Department estimates that Kern County jails are operating at near capacity.

"We still have to fix our correctional problem. You have to have bed space to put these people when we arrest them," said Youngblood.

But right now there is no money for a new jail, so Youngblood said he would like to explore other possibilities like putting more inmates on house arrest.