Detentions deputy arrested on suspicion of being under the influence at work, bringing meth to jail

Jun. 1—A Kern County Sheriff's Office detentions deputy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine and being under the influence of narcotics while working at the Lerdo Jail Complex, KCSO Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Wednesday.

Elizabeth Fernandez, a county employee for 21 years with 16 of those spent in her current role, was under the influence of meth while working her Tuesday shift, Youngblood said at a press conference announcing the arrest. Fernandez, 42, also had methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, the sheriff added.

"You think you know employees, you think you know people," Youngblood added about Fernandez. "But, obviously there was a side to this employee that others didn't know."

The detentions deputy was arrested in connection to a felony of entering a jail facility with narcotics and a misdemeanor of being under the influence of narcotics. She was booked into the Central Receiving Facility. Bail was set at $50,000, though she was not in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation showed an unattended bag was left in the jail's restroom Tuesday, Youngblood said. An employee searched the bag and found methamphetamine with a meth smoking "device," he added.

Lori Meza, a spokeswoman for KCSO, added nothing "nefarious" led to deputies searching Fernandez's bag. She added anyone would open an abandoned bag to find its owner.

The employee altered their supervisors and an investigation began. Youngblood added investigators haven't determined if Fernandez only used the narcotics or sold them to inmates.