UCSB Police Department Officer Ryan Smith recently announced the he will run against incumbent Sheriff Bill Brown and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Department Sgt. Sandra Brown in the upcoming elections for the position of sheriff.

Smith, 31, has a range of experience in law enforcement including working as a canine handler, a tactical team operator and as part the Crime Suppression Team, a unit that works to combat criminal street gangs and street-level narcotics. In 2012, Smith was awarded the University of California Meritorious Service Award for Valor for a shooting incident in Isla Vista.

Smith studied criminal justice at Arizona State University and the University of Virginia and is currently working towards a master’s degree in legal studies at the Santa Barbara College of Law.

Smith said he hopes to bring a new perspective on safety to the position of county sheriff through his experience and enthusiasm.

“I think that my education and training experience make me a prime candidate. Granted, I am younger than your typical candidate, but I think that’s an advantage,” Smith said. “I have the energy and the compassion … to create culture and safety.”

In regards to I.V. safety, Smith said the community must better prepare itself for the influx of non-I.V. residents that often accompanies larger community events, such as Deltopia.

“The university and sheriff’s department work to educate the Isla Vista community. There are several things that we can do to make the community better,” Smith said. “We have to realize that there is an outside element that comes to the Isla Vista area to victimize the community, so we need to have the resources available.”

Smith also said he would address safety concerns associated with the infrastructure and geography of I.V. as sheriff, expressing his desire to work in partnership with other community leaders.

“There are also environmental and structural considerations that we can do as far as lighting the community better, providing safety measures — such as open cliffs on portions of Del Playa,” Smith said. “I think we owe it to the public to do that. Working with our partners in the county, working with the campus supervisors, we’re trying to make the community safer.”

Several of Smith’s past colleagues offered their support for his candidacy. Chief of the Martinez Police Department Gary D. Peterson, who took courses with Smith at the FBI National Academy, said Smith embodied the necessary characteristics for the job, including a dedication to fostering collaboration and creative thinking.

“I found Ryan to be bright, intuitive and progressive. He had the insight of someone who was much older,” Peterson said. “Ryan was the person in our academy who brought people together — whether it was to raise money for children of fallen officers or to encourage classmates in the physical fitness portion of the program. Ryan is an out-of-the-box thinker. It was exciting to me that he would challenge the status quo and confront problems head on.”

Daryl Longworth, Woodstock Police Service’s Deputy Chief of Police who attended the FBI Academy with Smith, said Smith works with a “youthful zeal” and a sincere interest in learning as much as possible about policing and leadership. Longworth said Smith is an admirable law enforcement officer who has a firm understanding of the needs of his organization.

“Ryan’s ability to lead those of us who attended the FBI Academy extended well beyond our graduation date.” Longworth said. “He possesses a vision of what policing should be and how the community should be served by the police. I would gladly work alongside him or have him as a part of any team of police professionals that I was assembling.”

The election for Santa Barbara County Sheriff will take place in June 2014.

Sheriff mug


Ryan Smith

A version of this article appeared on page 3 of the May 15th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus