Numerous agencies represented at community forum

Westside residents got statistics, advice, answers and invitations to join at a community law enforcement forum that brought together representatives from just about every state, county and city agency serving the area.

Organized and led by Sgt. Marc Haiungs of the Kern County Sheriff's Taft substation, the forum included the KCSO, Taft Police, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, Kern County adult and juvenile probation, animal control, code enforcement and even the Taft Correctional Institution.

Haiungs, who transferred to the Taft substation earlier this year ,kicked the meeting off with statistics.

He has 11 deputies, two senior deputies, a support technician working with him at the Taft substation, which covers about 800 square miles in southwestern Kern County.

His deputies had 15,213 calls for service in 2013 and took 1,644 reports.

Taft's Chief of Police Ed Whiting, a 29-year veteran in the Taft area, talked a little more in depth about the crimes in the city.

His officers handle about 15,000 calls for service, and talked about the effects of AB 109, the prison realignment bill that has resulted in shorter sentences for many convicted criminals as more and more less serious offenders are incarcerated in counties instead of the state prison system.

“We're arresting the people 3 or 4 times or in some cases 8 or 9 times before they get sent away for a while,” Whiting said.

One troubling trend is that while simple assaults resulting in little or no injury have increased, major assault with serious injury have increased.

He also paid tribute to the cooperation between taft Police and other agencies during the Taft High shooting in January 2013.

“Everybody stepped up and took care of business on that very bad day,” he said.

Taft Correctional Institution Associated Warden Georgina Puentes eased any fears people might have about the inmates walking away from the federal prison's satellite camp, which she compared to a college campus. The prison holds mostly criminal aliens who will be deported after serving their sentence

“I guarantee you folks they are not going to be hanging out in Taft or Bakersfield,” she said. “ They're heading across the border.

Jerry Knight spoke for the Buttonwillow CHP office. Like the KCSO, it's responsible for a wide area of western Kern County including highways 119 , I-5, 166, 33 and 46. The interstate is a priority, he said, but patrol cars are assigned to the Taft area.

Carmen Richmond , a parole agent for the CDCR, siad there are about 40 parolees in the Taft area.

When they try to get away, the public finds out about it.

“When we have a parolee at large, Barbara's real good about putting them in Taft's most wanted,” Richmond said, referring to Barbara Schryver, the office support technician at the Taft substation who works with the Taft Midway Driller each week on TMW.

Kern County Probation Officer Frank Herrera said Taft doesn't have the same problems with juvenile offenders seen in other areas of the county.

Jared Agerton spoke about adult probation with 115 people on felony probation or AB109 supervision in the Taft area.

They concentrate on monitoring and changing behavior.

“If we can change one person, that's one less person out in the community committing crimes,” he said.

In addition, representatives from the Kern County Sheriff's search and rescue, citizens volunteer and training units invited people to volunteer or apply for an academy.