Nearly 60 striking Kings County sheriff's deputies were missing Friday, frustrating efforts by county officials to serve them with a temporary restraining order to halt their walkout in a dispute over pay and retirement benefits.
Amid reports that the striking officers had left the county or even the state to avoid service, County Counsel Denis Eymil said, "We're going to continue trying to serve them. We'll find 'em. They can't stay lost forever."
Members of the Deputy Sheriffs Assn. of Kings County walked out at 3 a.m. Thursday after negotiations with the county broke down Wednesday night. Four hours after the walkout began, Kings County Superior Court Judge Peter Schultz issued the restraining order and set a hearing for Aug. 1 to consider whether the order should be made permanent.
Sheriff Tom Clarke and a dozen other supervisory personnel remained on the job to handle emergency calls, along with one deputy who was found and served with a copy of the restraining order. Kings County has mutual assistance agreements with Tulare and Fresno counties, and no immediate rise in crime has been reported.