UCSB Police Officer Running for Sheriff

Ryan Smith Throws His Hat into the Ring

The new guy in town is hoping to be the new sheriff in town come next year.

Ryan Smith — who moved to Santa Barbara County nine months ago — is the third person to declare their intention to run for sheriff next June, joining current Sheriff Bill Brown and Sergeant Sandra Brown. Smith, 31, currently works for the UCSB Police Department. Prior to that, he was an officer in the Santa Paula Police Department.

Smith — who now lives in Los Olivos — said he is hoping to provide a higher level of service with more patrol units on the streets and will make the department “more efficient and effective good stewards of the public’s money.”

While his young age and short time in the county do raise questions, Smith looks at those attributes as advantages. He’s not someone at the end of their career, and he’s not burnt out, he explained. And he said he plans to bring a fresh, innovative perspective to the position and encourages people to hear him out. “Have an open mind, and listen to what I have to say,” he asked.

He said he’s been proactive in taking leadership roles. “Coming from a smaller agency, we have to do more with less,” said Smith, whose experience includes supervising the crime suppression team in Santa Paula, as well as working as a patrol watch commander and incident and tactical commander. He said whatever he lacks in experience as a department head he can make up with surrounding himself with the best, brightest, and most innovative team he can find.

Smith’s entry into the race further complicates an already complicated campaign, still 13 months away from the primary.

Sandra Brown, who has been in the Sheriff’s Department for 16 years, said last week she intended to run. In announcing she was going to challenge her boss, Sandra Brown came out guns blazing, saying the sheriff was a one-trick pony focused on the new North County jail while neglecting his deputies and frontline staff. She already enjoys the endorsements of at least one county supervisor and several retired members of the Sheriff’s Department.

Bill Brown, meanwhile, enjoys a good amount of popularity throughout the county and ran unopposed in 2010. He has come further along in his quest to build a new North County jail than any of his predecessors, though the need has been present for decades. But he has also been sheriff during dismal fiscal times, and his department — the county’s largest — has taken a hit, losing nearly 10 percent of its staff over the last several years.

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