Sunday, November 29 , 2015, 6:09 pm | Fair 57º

UCSB Police Officer Ryan Smith Enters Race for County Sheriff

Smith, the second candidate seeking to unseat Bill Brown, says a 'paradigm shift' is needed in the Sheriff's Department

Ryan Smith, an officer with the UCSB Police Department, is planning to challenge incumbent Bill Brown in next year’s election for Santa Barbara County sheriff.
Ryan Smith, an officer with the UCSB Police Department, is planning to challenge incumbent Bill Brown in next year’s election for Santa Barbara County sheriff.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A UCSB police officer has stepped forward as the second candidate seeking to unseat incumbent Bill Brown as sheriff of Santa Barbara County.

Ryan Smith, 31, has announced that he’ll be seeking the seat in next year’s election, saying he’s not looking at the race as a way to cap off a career, but to begin a “paradigm shift” that’s badly needed in the Sheriff’s Department.

“I feel like I’m in the prime of my career,” he said. “I’m not looking to be a figurehead.”

Smith describes himself as part of the “boots on the ground in Isla Vista,” where he’s been for eight months. Before that, he served as a police officer in Santa Paula for a decade.

Also in the race is sheriff’s Detective Sandra Brown, who officially announced last week that she’ll be seeking the position.

Smith worked with the Santa Paula Police Department for 10 years, in a community with significant gang and narcotics problems, a challenge for policing, especially with dwindling resources.

“We had to do a more with less,” he said. “You have to adapt and overcome as an organization because it’s not OK to cut services.”

He held a variety of positions in Santa Paula, including police officer, field training officer, senior police officer and sergeant, and served in specialty assignments such as tactical team operator, canine handler and Crime Suppression Team member.

Mutual-aid agreements meant that Smith was often asked to police Fiesta in downtown Santa Barbara and Halloween in Isla Vista, and he’s been working those events for the past eight years.

Smith studied criminal justice at Arizona State University and the University of Virginia. He’s also enrolled at the Santa Barbara College of Law, where he’s working toward a master’s degree in legal studies, which he plans to complete next year.

Just because he’s new to living in the county “doesn’t mean I don’t have an investment,” he said.

Smith spoke about the need to run the Sheriff’s Department in a fiscally responsible way, and said he’s seen firsthand that enough resources haven’t been allocated to street-level policing. Department employees, as hardworking as they are, “are handcuffed by lack of resources,” he said.

Brown has been somewhat of a one-issue leader, Smith said — “there is more to the law enforcement in Santa Barbara County than the North County jail” — and said that employees don’t feel heard.

“Some of the best recommendations are from people working on the street,” he said. “The best and brightest are demoralized. ... You have to be accessible to your people.”

When reached Thursday, Brown stressed once again that the race is an open one and doesn’t belong to a single person.

“We’ll be mounting a very strong campaign at the appropriate time, and the voters will ultimately make the decision as to who they think will be the best person for the office,” Brown said.

Smith spoke of deputies trying to give away overtime shifts because they’re being asked to work so much already.

“They’re being burnt out. Every time people say, ‘I don’t want my taxes raised,’ law enforcement stomps their feet,” he said, adding that a needs assessment should be done internally and externally on the department. “We’ve learned a lot from this downturn, what are we going to do with it?”

Creating regional partnerships with smaller agencies would be key, he said, including reaching out to the sometimes adversarial relationships with police chiefs in the area.

“Criminals don’t care about boundaries,” he said.

Click here for more information on Smith’s platform.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 05.10.13 @ 11:00 AM

And it starts.

If you are opposed to B. Brown then it is time to sit down and talk with constituents.  A multi candidate opposition is the perfect formula for the status quo.

If you are supporting B. Brown you must be doing the Snoopy Happy Dance.

As far as I know there never has been a successful candidate from a college based law enforcement for such a position (could be wrong) and let’s face it Santa Paula is not a real challenge.

S. Brown faced name recognition and establishment opposition without and additional candidate.

It is interesting both have identified the current Sheriff as a single issue administrator with problems in the overall department.

» on 05.10.13 @ 01:00 PM

Any ethical and responsible individual associated with the UCSB Mafia police department would have resigned long ago. The UCSB police department is accountable to nobody elected and the unelected UCSB Mafia administrators to whom they are allegedly accountable aren’t accountable to anyone elected either.
Unaccountable UCSB Mafia regularly exploits its unaccountable UCSB Mafia police force as armed muscle against its detractors. I know because I was once one its targets and spent ten days in jail as a political prisoner, twelve days in a mental hospital as a political dissident and nearly a year preparing for a trial where UCSB Mafia simply dismissed the bogus charge days before because they knew they would lose and be exposed in court as unaccountable criminal thugs.
UCSB Mafia is a disgrace, the UCSB Mafia police department is a disgrace and the surrounding Goleta, IV and Santa Barbara communities that tolerate them are a disgrace. No university in the history of the world has betrayed the human species and TRUTH more than UCSB. I still encourage all UCSB Mafia faculty, staff and students to either quit, resign or disenroll.

» on 05.10.13 @ 01:08 PM

I attended the FBI National Academy with Ryan Smith and quickly observed that he embodied the qualities best associated with police leadership, while exuding a refreshing spirit and enthusiasm that at times gets lost in the policing profession.  As an older police officer with 24 years of police service, I found myself following his lead in group projects, discussions and activities because of his infectious natural leadership abilities. I most admired Ryan’s deep convictions about serving the greater good as a police officer and his deep seeded belief that leadership is paramount to accomplishing our profession’s goals.  I think the citizens of Santa Barbara County would be well served with Ryan at the helm of their Sheriff’s Department.

Nick Willard
Police Captain

» on 05.10.13 @ 01:27 PM

What is his position on concealed carry permits for self-defense?  How about more accountability/openness for misbehaving officers?

» on 05.10.13 @ 01:51 PM

What we need is a “paradigm shift” in the local Santa Barbara police department and get rid of Cam Sanchez, who supports police brutality (I’m specifically referring to the beating of Tony Denunzio).

Sanchez said this was okay, the district attorney, Joyce Dudley, filed charges against Denunzio, but not against the officer who beat Denunzio, Aaron Tudor, and the City Council did not say a word during all of this. Shameful!

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