New deputy brings problem-solving attitude

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

New deputy brings problem-solving attitudeWhen Kern County Sheriff Department Sgt. Mike Scott accepted a promotion that transferred him to the Mojave Sheriff’s Office, Senior Deputy Paul Leonard was promoted to sergeant in the Ridgecrest office, and Deputy Edward “Ed” O’Brien was promoted to senior deputy.

The KCSO’s Ridgecrest substation is located across Coso Sreet from the post office, on the south side of the court building.

Leonard has an open-door policy. “Anyone who has concerns can come to the substation and contact me,” he said. “With the help of the sheriff’s office and the community, I think we can solve just about any problem.”

Both Leonard and O’Brien were transferred from the Bakersfield area to Ridgecrest for these promotions. Both still reside in Bakersfield with their families and commute to Ridgecrest.

Since both grew up in small rural towns in Kern County, they say they are perfectly adjusted to the desert. They also have worked together for years.

Leonard, who has been with the KCSO 14 years so far, worked in Ridgecrest in 2010. Then he was promoted to senior deputy and transferred to Bakersfield to be in charge of all the zones there. “When I left here I went to Metro Patrol in Bakersfield.”

He expressed pleasure at being back in Ridgecrest. “I loved working here, and loved the community.”

O’Brien worked in “Three Zone,” the south area of Bakers-field, where, he said, “Paul was a big mentor to me.”

Leonard said his predecessor, Scott, “had the office like a well-oiled machine. It was really easy to step in after him. I have big shoes to fill. Mike was out here a long time and the community loves and respects him.”

Leonard added that he doesn’t mind the daily commute. “The drive is beautiful, especially outside of the Tehachapi Mountains, with that big blue sky.” He and wife Laurie have been married 17 years and have two children.

“My wife is locked into her job or we’d move out here. I plan on sticking around at least three or four years so the community can get to know me and I can get to know them.”

Leonard grew up in the Lamont-Arvin area on a farm. “Bakersfield was a huge city to me. Ridgecrest is just about the right size. I love the small-town environment, and the way the community gets together and solves problems.

“My wife was floored by how many people came to the Respect for Law Dinner — it was packed, you couldn’t get a ticket to it.”

His leisure hours are divided between spending time with his family and reading, fishing, hunting, bowling, off-roading and golf. He is the sergeant of an off-road team.

O’Brien started out as a patrol deputy, first in Buttonwillow, then in Bakersfield. He has been with KCSO seven years so far. Prior to coming to Ridgecrest, he was a field recruit training officer, and still is a part-time recruit training officer at the Regional Training Center in Bakersfield, known as the Academy.

O’Brien has a military background, with more than 20 years in the Air Force, including eight years of active duty prior to hiring on with KCSO.

He was in the California Air National Guard for 13 years and is a member of the KCSO Honor Guard.

“Ridgecrest is full of givers,” said O’Brien. “All the service organizations and the way the community reaches out to people in need — the community seems to be very supportive of each other.

“I admire how all the different agencies in the community work together — the cooperation from everyone from Supervisor Mick Gleason on down. It’s impressive to see what the community offers.

“In Bakersfield, the Relay for Life is the biggest in the country, but in a small community, the involvement stands out more.”

O’Brien and his wife Janice have been married 23 years and have two children. His hobbies include fishing, shooting guns and spending time with his family.

He grew up in Shafter. After working in Bakersfield, he called Ridgecrest “a refreshing change.”

Story First Published: 2013-05-15