In an interview Friday morning with Sheriff Donny Youngblood regarding the subject of random drug testing within the department, the sheriff revealed it was the Eyewitness News phone call initiating the interview that got him thinking now is the time to begin discussions with deputies to implement random drug testing.
Like the Bakersfield Police Department, the sheriffs department doesn't currently gives its officers random drug tests.
But, with a pair of deputies found under the influence of methamphetamine in recent years, the sheriff said the time for random testing has come.
"I'm in favor of random drug testing. I think that we as police officers should be held to a higher standard," the sheriff told Eyewitness News from his headquarters office. "I would lead the charge of giving a drug test, because I think it would send a message to the public that we are transparent and we are public servants, and we're here to serve the public. But I can't do it without some support, and, in fairness to the union, we've never asked them, so we are going to make that request of the deputy union to see how it flies."
Eyewitness News spoke with Mark Haiungs, president of the Kern Law Enforcement Association, which is the union representing deputies. He confirmed to us that he received an email Friday asking to consider random drug testing for his rank-and-file officers.
Officially, he said the majority of his board is in favor, however, more than 500 union members would be polled to get their opinions.
Eyewitness News will feature reports on the issue of random drug testing in the coming weeks.