After several months of training and preparation, Jim Anderson is ready to take his position as Santa Barbara’s top dog.
Anderson, who was elected in March, was sworn in as Santa Barbara County sheriff yesterday at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Anderson is replacing Jim Thomas, who has been sheriff for the past 12 years. Since March, Anderson has been working closely with Thomas to ease the transition.
“The transition has been smooth; Thomas has been helpful and cooperative,” Anderson said. “I’ve been working hard behind the scenes so we’ve got everyone moving in the same direction.”
Thomas said he is confident in Anderson’s abilities as sheriff. Anderson has worked as an undersheriff for Thomas and spent the summer months training under his predecessor.
“We’ve worked hard since the election in March to make the transition work,” Thomas said. “[Anderson] certainly has the tools to be a very good sheriff.”
Anderson has been working with the current staff to develop a strategic plan for the next five to 10 years. His top priority is to fill 30 positions within the sheriff’s department.
“We need to fill these vacancies to continue to protect and serve the community in the best way we can,” he said.
Among other issues, Anderson said he is concerned with state budget cuts that may be implemented during his term as well as the construction of a new jail in the north county. The proposed jail has been on the sheriff’s department’s agenda in the past, but Anderson said the population is growing in the north county and a jail is the main facility the area lacks.
“If people out there commit a crime, you have to be able to lock them up so they can pay the consequences,” Anderson said. “If there is no consequence, this perpetuates the problem.”
Anderson said the Santa Barbara County Jail has been operating at its court ordered cap for quite some time and can no longer handle the population from the north county, which is why a north county jail is on the top of his agenda.
Anderson said it is an honor and a privilege to be elected to this position.
“I appreciate the support of the community to assume leadership,” he said.
Anderson defeated Isla Vista Foot Patrol’s former Lt. Ugo “Butch” Arnoldi, retired Undersheriff Dave Dorsey and Detective Roger Aceves in the March election. He received just over 50 percent of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff in the November election.