Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 9
Sandra Brown announces her bid for sheriff
BY AMY ASMAN
Another Brown is vying for the title of Santa Barbara County Sheriff.
Sgt. Sandra Brown, a 16-year veteran with the department, recently announced plans to challenge two-term incumbent Sheriff Bill Brown in the June 2014 election.
The two Browns aren’t related.
In an interview with the Sun, Sandra said she’s running for sheriff to get more deputies out on the streets and to channel the department’s financial resources back into training and equipment.
“The question is, do we want to be a sheriff’s department with boots on the ground or do we want to be a department that just houses inmates?” Sandra said.
She said the current sheriff has focused too much on trying to pay for a new North County Jail and not enough on the department itself.
While she admitted that building a new jail is important, she said, “You can’t make the [sheriff’s] department a funding source for the jail. We don’t make any money.”
She pointed to the department’s dwindling staffing numbers—the department has lost 67 full-time positions in the last six years—and the consistent need for deputies to work overtime as examples of what she calls failed prioritizing.
She also said the current sheriff’s decisions to reduce the existing North County Jail to a booking facility and to take deputies off the streets to keep the South County Jail open threaten the safety of both local residents and law enforcement.
“If deputies [in North County] make an arrest during daylight hours, they have to drive that person down to Santa Barbara,” Sandra said.
She said arrestees are usually fragile because they’re drug addicts or have some kind of medical condition, so deputies have to take them to the hospital for treatment as well.
“And then you have to get back to the office, book your evidence, and write a report, and by then it’s the end of the day,” she said.
Conditions like these, she said, have damaged department morale.
She called the current sheriff’s leadership style “reactionary,” and said the county needs a sheriff who will proactively address problems before they get out of control. She used increasing reports of crime in Isla Vista and out-of-control parties, like Floatopia, as examples, saying that deputies should be going out earlier in the day to catch people committing misdemeanors instead of responding to felony crimes.
A detective sergeant with the coroner’s office, Sandra currently oversees all of the death investigations in the county.
Some other key components of Sandra’s campaign include:
• Expanding the department’s gang unit to work with police departments throughout the county in gang prevention, suppression, and re-entry.
• Increasing the number of deputies on foot patrol to assist with crime prevention. She said deputies on foot patrol would also work with the probation department to oversee the influx of prison inmates being released back into the county via the prison realignment bill, A.B. 109.
• Proposing the creation of a child crimes task force to better protect children from abuse and neglect. She said it takes a certain kind of person to investigate crimes committed against children, and that she would establish a team of the county’s “best and brightest” to catch pedophiles sooner.
When the Sun reached out to the current sheriff for comment, Bill Brown declined to comment on Sandra Brown’s claims, but he did confirm that he’ll be running for a third term.
“I’m very proud of the record that I have accomplished and the record that the department has accomplished under my leadership,” he said. “We’ve faced one of the most difficult financial challenges that our county has ever seen, and we’ve continued to deliver exceptional services given the circumstances.
“What we’d like to do and what we’re able to do are two separate things,” he added.