Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, fresh off last month’s re-election victory over Sgt. Sandra Brown, is transferring his challenger to oversee Superior Court bailiffs.
Sandra Brown, a 17-year veteran of the department, has been a detective sergeant with the Special Investigations Bureau of the Coroner’s Bureau for about four years. She ran against the sheriff in the June election, but the incumbent coasted to a third term with 56 percent of the vote. The two Browns are not related.
The transfer decision was made by the command staff at meetings on June 30 and July 1, Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson said. The decision-makers included Sheriff Brown, Patterson, two chiefs and the six commanders within the department.
Seven sergeant transfers were decided along with strategic planning for the next three or four years, Patterson said. He added that Brown’s four-year stint at the Coroner’s Bureau is the longest in 20 years.
“So it really was time to transfer her,” he told Noozhawk.
The Sheriff’s Department moves sergeants around every few years for experience, Patterson said, so if and when they’re promoted, they have a working knowledge of the entire system.
Sergeants are asked for a “wish list” of three places to go but it’s not guaranteed, he noted.
Brown, who did not list Superior Court among her choices, had wanted to go back to patrol, but the command staff decided to put her at the courts, Patterson said.
As a supervising sergeant, she will oversee 13-14 bailiffs — who provide security and help secure evidence and equipment at court facilities — at the South Coast courthouses.
Her transfer is effective Monday and her current position will be taken over by Sgt. Jason Grossini, who has prior experience with the Coroner’s Bureau.
The department doesn’t have an actual transfer policy but considers transfers every year around March. This year, Sheriff Brown put the process on hold because of the election and how changes could be perceived, according to Patterson.
He acknowledges that the transfer could be interpreted as a reaction to Sandra Brown’s decision to run for sheriff.
“We all knew when we started talking about transferring Sandra, rumors were going to fly,” he said.
Brown declined to comment for this story, citing the department’s policy prohibiting employees from discussing work-related issues.
“I would need permission to make a comment,” she said in an email to Noozhawk.
“I’m a county employee first,” she said at the time. “I’m not looking to change career paths. My hope is he’ll treat me like he did before I decided to run.”
The sergeants were given two weeks written notice so they could wrap up cases and prepare for the transition.
One of Brown’s last cases is the complex investigation of the May 23 Isla Vista mass murder. Seven people were killed in the stabbing and shooting rampage, including the perpetrator, and 13 more were injured.
The reports are finished, at 300-400 pages, and are being checked over now, according to Patterson.
Sheriff’s officials expect to release the reports, in response to California Public Records Act requests, in about a month.