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Lompoc Chief Enters Fray

Lompoc Police Chief Bill Brown announced he would challenge
Sheriff Jim Anderson for the post of top cop in the county last
Thursday, explaining, “The level of confidence and trust both
inside and outside the department has been compromised. A change of
leadership is required.” Brown faulted Anderson for selling pretend
badges to big donors to the Sheriff’s Council; for attempting to
talk former council president Chris Edgecomb out of filing an
assault complaint against his successor Jim Towle; and finally for
abruptly dissolving the department’s relations with the council
altogether last December. Brown said the nonprofit organization
should be reconstituted as the Santa Barbara County Public Safety
Foundation, charged with raising much-needed funds for all the law
enforcement agencies throughout the county.

Born in Alabama, the son of an advance scout for Christian
televangelist Billy Graham, Brown took over the Lompoc Department
10 years ago, fighting an uphill battle against gang violence and
domestic abuse with a department beset by rapid turnover, losing 20
officers to the Santa Maria Police Department. In the coming
sheriff’s election, Brown — who has never run for office
before — will face not only the wily incumbent Anderson but also
Anderson’s politically accomplished predecessor and rival, Jim
Thomas. Brown charged Anderson and Thomas both bear some
responsibility for the jail overcrowding crisis, and said steps
needed to be taken to address the problem now. “We can’t wait the
five years it would take to build a new jail, assuming we can even
convince voters to spring for the $153 million it will cost to
build.”

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