Bill Brown's leadership as Sheriff of Santa Barbara County has been strong, clear, consistent, sensible and unwavering. He has led the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office through 11 of the most difficult financial years in its history. Despite unprecedented staffing cuts (90 General Fund positions since 2007), he has guided the agency in a proactive manner focused on keeping front-line deputies on the streets and custody deputies working in the jail. He also streamlined important support and prevention functions, and instituted innovative and evidenced-based practices.

Some examples of his leadership include:

  • Led the Sheriff’s Office response to a variety of critical incidents and disasters, including several mass murders, a dozen major wildland fires, and the recent mudslides in Montecito.
  • Instituted a merit-based promotional system.
  • Assembled a Blue Ribbon Commission on Jail Overcrowding that met for the better part of a year and published a report of its findings and recommendations. (View Report Here)
  • Reinstituted the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance and Education) program in schools.
  • Expanded the agency's Narcotics and Gang Enforcement efforts.
  • Expanded the Law Enforcement Explorer Program.
  • Secured a competitive State award of $80 million for a North County jail and then obtained Board of Supervisors approval to proceed with the design and construction of that desperately needed facility. (View aerial view of Northern Branch Jail construction progress)
  • Oversaw the consolidation of the Sheriff and Fire aviation units into a blended County Air Support Unit led by the Sheriff's Office.
  • Established Day Reporting Centers in both North and South County, where criminal offenders released from State prison can obtain services and assistance to help them successfully return to the community.
  • Expanded the Citizen Academy Program to both North and South Counties.
  • Released a quarterly public version of the “Sheriff's Roundup,” a video news magazine depicting some of the more significant activities and accomplishments of the men and women of the Sheriff's Office. The show airs regularly on the Cox cable network.


Sheriff Bill Brown was elected by his peers as the Chairman of the Santa Barbara County Law Enforcement Chiefs (C.L.E.C.) association. In this role he coordinates cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement and corrections authorities working within Santa Barbara County. Some examples of their collaborative work include data sharing, special event mutual aid (such as Isla Vista Halloween Operations, Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, Lompoc Flower Festival and Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days Fiesta), and AB109 Compliance Response Teams (C.R.T.s) consisting of a deputy sheriff paired up with a deputy probation officer.

Sheriff Brown also serves as the Executive Director of SBRCAT – the Santa Barbara Regional Criminal Apprehension Team. This unit, composed of members of local and state law enforcement agencies, is responsible for the investigation of major narcotic sales, human trafficking and other major criminal investigations.

For many years Sheriff Brown has served in a leadership role on numerous local boards and committees. These include being a board member and honorary board member for the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center and Santa Barbara County Domestic Violence Solutions, an advisory board member of the Anti-Defamation League and the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, and service as a Red Cross Ambassador for the Santa Barbara County Chapter of the American Red Cross. He was a co-founder and steering committee member for the Santa Barbara County Reentry Project, and he serves as a steering committee member on Santa Barbara's “Fighting Back” (Against Alcohol & Drug Abuse). He is also a member of the Lompoc Hospital District Board of Trustees, the Santa Barbara County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Santa Barbara County Community Reentry Partnership, the South Coast Coalition on Youth Gangs, the Santa Maria Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Safety, and he is a member of the board of directors for the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.


In 2010 Sheriff Brown was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to represent California's sheriffs as a Commissioner on the State of California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Reappointed in 2013 and 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown, Sheriff Brown continues to serve on this body that awards funding and oversees programs pursuant to the State's Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). During 2016-2017 he chaired a committee that studied successful ways to keep mentally ill people out of the criminal justice system. In November 2017 that committee issued a report titled: “Together We Can: Reducing Criminal Justice Involvement for People with Mental Illness.” (View Report Here)

In 2017, Bill Brown was elected by his peer sheriffs as the President of the California State Sheriffs' Association. He regularly works with California's 57 others sheriffs to deliver a strong and unified voice in Sacramento and Washington on legislation and public policy related to law enforcement and corrections matters. In 2005-2006, Bill Brown served as the President of the California Police Chiefs’ Association. He is the only person ever to have been elected by his peers to serve in the top leadership roles in California's sheriff and police chief associations.

Sheriff Brown also served as a member of the Stanford Executive Session, a group of 10 academic, law enforcement, probation and corrections leaders assembled by the Stanford University School of Law to assist in the preparation of a report on the impacts of Criminal Justice Realignment (AB109). This legislation transferred responsibility for incarcerating and supervising certain felons from the State to California's counties. The Executive Session was tasked with identifying key issues facing the front end of the criminal justice system as a result of criminal justice realignment, making recommendations to the governor and the legislature for system improvements, and providing feedback for a final report. (View Report Here)