In an unexpected move, Lt. Brian Olmstead has pulled papers to run for Santa Barbara County Sheriff-Coroner, challenging three-term incumbent Bill Brown, according to the County Elections Office.

Brown is running for re-election to the post he first won in 2006 and the primary election is June 5. 

Although Olmstead has pulled papers with a little more than three months before the election, his entry is certain to make political waves, as Brown now faces a challenge from one of his lieutenants.

“As Sheriff, I will ensure that we have a responsive, transparent and fiscally responsible Sheriff’s Office that places protecting our residents and community as the top priority,” Olmstead told Noozhawk in an exclusive interview. 

“As a law enforcement professional I am committed to improving public safety in our community,” he said.

Olmstead said he started his 28-year law enforcement career with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office as a patrolman, and has held assignments throughout the department including patrol, narcotics, crimes against persons, training, and human trafficking divisions. 

Last month​, Olmstead helped supervise the statewide “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,” which led to the recovery of 28 commercially exploited children and 27 adult victims. Law enforcement personnel involved in the operation also arrested 142 males for solicitation and 36 men for pimping. 

For the past 10 years, he has managed several bureaus including Civil and Records, Training, Special Investigations Bureau, and served as Station Commander for both the Santa Maria Substation and Isla Vista Foot Patrol.

“I have established excellent relationships within the Sheriff’s Office, other county departments, outside agencies, and have developed strong working relationships with our community partners,” Olmstead said. “Present day law enforcement faces many challenges, and I look forward to leading the Sheriff’s Office into the future.”

The Sheriff-Coroner position is one of several Santa Barbara County leaders up for election on the June 5 ballot

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at