Youngblood said the vacancies will ease as new graduates emerge from training academies. There are about 60 potential new deputies in three classes that will be graduating in the coming year. Youngblood comes into the sheriff’s post with a 30-year history with the department. He has held a number of roles in the department, including serving in the county jail system, as patrol deputy, a robbery investigator, and as commander for the substations of Rosamond, Mojave and Boron. Among his first actions since being sworn in as sheriff, Youngblood is pushing a plan to expand the county’s gang task force from eight deputies to 21. The plan, given tentative approval by the county Board of Supervisors, will cost about $5 million over the next two years. “If we don’t control it soon, we’ll never control it,” Youngblood said of the county’s gang crime issue. Youngblood said Rosamond will be among the communities the gang task force will be focus on, along with Bakersfield and McFarland, a community of 12,000 people that has seen six gang-related homicides in recent months. In Rosamond’s case, Youngblood said there is a concern enforcement efforts in neighboring Lancaster and Palmdale are pushing gang members north. Another major issue is determining how to handle jail inmates. The county’s jail 2,450-bed system is under federal limits to prevent overcrowding. “When you reach that capacity, when someone comes in someone has to go out,” Youngblood said. The result is that inmates are serving only about 10 percent of their sentences. Jail construction costs are enormous and relief from the governor’s proposed prison construction plan is at least three years or more away, Youngblood said. One concept Youngblood wants to look at is reducing recidivism by enhancing vocational training. The idea would be to place low-risk inmates with members of the community willing to take them on as minimum wage apprentices during the term of the sentence. At the end of their sentence, inmates would have practical job skills. Inmates in such a program would go to what is referred to as day reporting centers. Inmates would report regularly to the center, be tested periodically for drug and alcohol abuse, and receive counseling. “That’s where we’re going in corrections,” Youngblood said. There are about 4,700 such centers across the country. [email protected] (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ROSAMOND – Filling deputy vacancies, expanding gang enforcement and finding new ways to handle jail inmates are among the top priorities for new Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. Youngblood, who was sworn in as sheriff in January, said one of his goals is to fill 90 deputy vacancies in the department. Rosamond has five of its 13 positions vacant, and one post is filled with a deputy on a temporary duty assignment. “This community will get those deputies,” Youngblood said. Youngblood said he is also committed to bringing in at least two deputies for the Boron substation, which currently has no one assigned to it.