Elect Bill Brown for Sheriff

BillBrown.jpg The Sheriff’s Department is in serious
need of help. And that help must come from a new sheriff who is not
part of the current infighting, public debacles, or divided
loyalties now afflicting the department.

Police Chief Bill Brown fits the bill perfectly. He has the
right mix of leadership skills, political savvy, and common sense.
With 28 years’ experience as a law enforcement officer, 10 years as
Lompoc police chief, Brown has proven to be tough, creative,
shrewd, and compassionate. Chief Brown has reduced crime, built
public trust, and recruited high-quality officers.

An innovative crime-fighter, Chief Brown obtained court
injunctions barring known gang members from congregating in
specified areas around Lompoc, becoming the only law officer in the
county to do so. It proved a useful tool.

But Chief Bill Brown also knows how to combine the carrot with
the stick. A genuine champion of community-oriented policing, he
has built a remarkable rapport with Lompoc’s diverse ethnic,
business, and agricultural communities, and has led an impressive
fight against domestic violence and child abuse. When Chief Brown
took over the Lompoc police force he confronted the same problem
the Sheriff’s Department now faces: poor recruitment and high
turnover. Brown worked within his limited resources to develop
officers locally. Today, his department is at full strength, with a
sizable waiting list.

Chief Brown enjoys widespread respect among law enforcement
agencies throughout California. He has led both the state and Santa
Barbara’s police chief associations, directed the regional
narcotics enforcement team, and is a graduate of the FBI

Showing considerable political chops, Brown, a conservative
Republican, garnered the endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial
candidate Steve Westly and many key Santa Barbara progressives
while managing to convince a majority of California police chiefs
to endorse former Democratic governor Jerry Brown — now mayor of
Oakland — in his race for Attorney General.

By contrast, incumbent sheriff Jim Anderson has made political
ineptitude a campaign virtue, repeating over and over, “I’m a cop,
not a politician.” While we endorsed Anderson in the last election,
we’ve been under-whelmed by his lack of judgment. On his watch, the
Sheriff’s Council, which should be a community-based nonprofit
raising funds to improve the department, has degenerated into a
nasty food fight between the rich and richer. Although he
ultimately changed his mind, Anderson agreed to put Chumash Casino
stickers on sheriff’s search-and-rescue vehicles when he accepted a
sizable tribal donation to the department. And what was he thinking
when he suggested that local deputies and officers be given
authority to enforce federal immigration laws? Every immigrant in
the county would run from the sight of a uniform. How would this
make anyone safer? Sheriff Anderson’s department is already
understaffed and now he thinks his deputies should do the work of
the immigration service?

Another candidate is Sheriff’s Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi, a
straight-talking, hardworking, great cop for 37 years. But he is
not a politician. After watching Sheriff Anderson stumble into one
political fiasco after another, it is clear that political skills
are as essential to the job as being an experienced law

Then there is the candidacy of Jim Thomas, who was sheriff from
1990 to 2002. He unquestionably possesses the skill, experience,
and authority to handle the job. But under his leadership the
Sheriff’s Department became extremely politicized, especially
during Board of Supervisor elections. Worse, after his retirement,
he was a candidate in one of the nastiest political campaigns in
county history. It’s too much old baggage.

The deputies of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department deserve
to be led by a seasoned, professional law enforcement executive who
has the savvy to find the monies and methods necessary to make our
county safe without getting involved in polarizing politics. The
man for the job is Chief Bill Brown.   — Marianne
Partridge Editor-in-Chief


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