Sergeant Sandra Brown, a 16-year veteran of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, announced last week that she will run for the position of sheriff in the county-wide election taking place this June.
Brown, who currently serves as sergeant of the County Coroner’s Office will challenge incumbent Sheriff Bill Brown, who has been in office for two terms for a period of roughly eight years.
According to Brown’s campaign for “Action, Not Words,” the current sheriff’s strategy has not yielded the desired results of reducing crime in Isla Vista, which become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years.
“[Bill Brown] looks at a lot of problems and doesn’t know how to fix them,” Brown said. “Even with the increased violence in Isla Vista, he hasn’t put out any plans for education. He hasn’t changed anything and he hasn’t changed enforcement.”
Brown said she worked for three years in Isla Vista, starting in 2004, and by working proactively, she and her team managed to decrease crime by over 50 percent and sexual assault by over 70 percent.
After the death of a female student from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the collapse of a Del Playa Drive balcony resulting in injuries, safety concerns in the area arose following the annual tradition of Deltopia. According to Brown, the recent push from students for the erection of wooden fencing along the elevated cliffs of Del Playa Drive, should be seen as a collaborative effort between students and the SB Sheriff’s Office.
“It makes me interested that students are pushing for this instead of the government,” Brown said. “Where is the sheriff in that?”
Brown said she plans to change law enforcement to address environmental changes in Isla Vista, including lessening the opportunity for crime by encouraging parties closed to people from out of the area as well as making Del Playa a one-way street and increasing lighting.
Named Goleta’s Public Servant of the Year, Brown is a co-founder of the Deputy “Explorer” program, a Detective Sergeant in the Special Investigations Bureau and has served as director of education for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley.
“I’ve worked for several different areas within the department,” Brown said “[My experiences] give me expertise that makes me a very well-rounded candidate for the position.”
She also said strong action policies are necessary for all communities, and she plans to revisit neglected areas within the counties, including trash cleanup and the elimination of graffiti.
According to Brown, electing a sheriff who cares about students’ well-being is imperative to the residents of Santa Barbara County.
“At the coroner’s office, I have had to speak to parents whose kids have died. There aren’t really words to describe how they feel,” Brown said. “As sheriff, I want to send out the right vision, to make sure that kids get home to their families and make sure I’m providing a safe environment. You have to be a leader that believes that law enforcement, when used properly, can change the quality of peoples’ lives.”