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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 10

And Smith makes three running for sheriff

BY AMY ASMAN

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown will have another challenger going up against him in the June 2014 election: UCSB police officer Ryan Smith has tossed his badge in the ring, joining the Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Sandra Brown.

In an interview with the Sun, Smith said he’s running for sheriff because he has “the energy, compassion, and vision to create a culture in the department that will keep the county safe for decades to come.”

Smith said his main goals, if elected, are to make the department more efficient and to be a better steward of taxpayers’ money.

The 31-year-old has been with the UCSB Police Department for about nine months. Prior to that, he worked for more than nine years with the Santa Paula Police Department.

While he hasn’t lived in the county long, Smith said he has a good understanding of local issues because he spent the last several years assisting the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Barbara Police Department in foot patrol for large events and with gang investigations.

“[The Santa Paula Police Department] had a great relationship with the county and city of Santa Barbara. They’d come down and help us all the time,” Smith said.

He also cited his years of leadership experience in Santa Paula, where he served as a patrol watch commander, incident and tactical commander, and as a supervisor of the crime suppression team and canine unit.

As the county’s top law enforcement official, Smith said he would work with the limited resources available to him to fill vacancies and reduce overtime costs.

“It’s no secret that people [in the department] are unhappy,” he said. “I’m not saying that I’m the cure-all, but I think I have the vision to lead the department in a new direction.”

That vision includes working with department employees and the community to determine what problems need to be addressed and conducting a needs assessment for the department to determine where funds most need to be spent.

Smith said he would combine specialized units, such as the gang unit and prison realignment unit, to give officers the resources they need to make the county safer.

He said that the current sheriff has placed too much focus on building the North County Jail.

“Obviously, the North County Jail is going to be built regardless of who the sheriff is,” he said. “We need a jail to be built, but there are also some major issues in our county that need to be addressed.”

One of these issues is jail overcrowding. Smith said, in addition to upgrading facilities, he’d like to see more money spent on rehabilitative programs that help reduce the prison population.

“I’m not interested in making model inmates; I’m interested in making model citizens,” he said.

He understands why some people argue that taxpayer money shouldn’t be spent on helping people who break that law, but he said, “We’re paying for their custody, so why not spend some of that money on rehabilitation and reducing the crime level?”

He proposes forging more partnerships with community organizations that help reduce costs on both sides. As an example, he suggested partnering with CalFire or Santa Barbara County Fire to create hand crews of inmates.