Rural Crime Unit
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Rural Crime Investigation Unit currently consists of one sergeant, two senior deputies, three deputies, one clerk and a dedicated deputy district attorney. The Rural Crime Investigation Unit (RCIU) is a collaborative program designed to have experienced investigators work directly with stake-holders in the agricultural, livestock and oil production industries.
According to the Kern Economic Development Corporation (KERNEDC) Website in 2015:
ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES: Kern County is a leading producer of oil, natural gas, hydro-electric power, geothermal, solar and wind power, and is noted for its mineral wealth, including gold, borate, and kernite.
VALUE-ADDED AGRICULTURE: In terms of overall employment, Kern County’s value-added agriculture industry is the largest and most significant sector. Over 55,000 people – 20% of Kern’s total workforce – are employed in this large industry sector.
Before RCIU existed, any agricultural, livestock or oilfield related crimes were generally reported to an outlying substation. In such instances, it was inherently difficult to develop the necessary investigative expertise to manage the case with any measure of success. Industry-wide security deficiencies also contributed to the financial exposure of rural business. Those security deficiencies naturally resulted in additional investigative challenges.
As rural crime continued to increase, law enforcement recognized the need to develop new strategies to address the unique crimes associated with the rural business community. Past law enforcement practices and investigative techniques were no longer keeping pace with the criminal advancements in rural crimes. Law enforcement quickly discovered criminals involved in rural crimes were not bound by city or county jurisdictions. Experienced investigators recognized crimes being committed in one county were often times perpetrated by criminals who resided in adjoining jurisdictions.
In an effort to address the growing law enforcement challenges of rural crime, the Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Task Force was created. This task force is comprised of highly trained rural crime investigators from the: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern Counties. The task force is dedicated to the development of new and more effective techniques for addressing agricultural, ranching and oil field crimes.
The task force understands rural crimes are a multi-faceted issue. In addition to addressing the criminal component, the task force actively pursues prevention through educational activities with rural companies. Through education and prevention, the task force has been able to significantly reduce the number of crimes committed within our central valley. The task force works closely with the district attorney’s office, discussing crime trends and evolving technologies. Through this partnership, the district attorney’s office is able to develop legal tools to vigorously investigate and prosecute suspects.
The Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Task Force is partially funded by the State of California. Currently, a percentage of the funding for the Kern County Sheriff's Office Rural Crime Investigation Unit is provided by the State of California and the Kern County Oil and Gas permitting fees.