Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith Announces She Will Retire in January

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced Thursday she will not run for re-election and plans to retire from her post at the end of her term in January.

The move comes as Smith is fighting corruption accusations.

The sheriff made the announcement in an e-mail to staff.

“For nearly 50 years, the last 24 as Sheriff, we have worked together to build an elite law enforcement agency. Thank you for helping achieve that goal. While there is still much work to do, I have decided to retire from the Office of Sheriff at the end of my term in January of 2023,” Smith wrote. “While I will not miss the politics of this job, I will miss the people with whom I have had the pleasure to work with over the years. Individually and collectively, you have served the public with dedication and integrity. I could not be prouder of this office, your efforts, and the protection we provide the public day in and day out.”

Smith has worked in law enforcement for 49 years, serving the last 24 years as sheriff of Santa Clara County.

Sheriff Smith released the following statement to the public:

“I want to thank the residents of Santa Clara County for allowing me to serve as your Sheriff for the last 24 years and in the Sheriff’s Office for the last 49. We have accomplished much since I was first sworn as a Deputy Sheriff’s Matron in 1973.

I am especially proud that we have made significant progress and are now considered a premier law enforcement agency throughout the state. I thank the women and men of the Sheriff’s Office for their dedication and service. We truly have the finest staff that serve with honesty and integrity.

This job will never be finished and it is with some regret that I announce my retirement from service at the end of my term in January of 2023. My decision not to run for reelection was very difficult. There is much still to do, but the interests of the people of our County must continue to be our first priority.

As a public official, sometimes you make powerful enemies. Decisions to stand up for a victim of a gang rape, oppose a Judge who leniently dealt with a sexual offender because of his privileged status or taking on other elected officials to protect the public and a former reputable newspaper because it was the right thing to do makes you a target. I accept that fact.

The truth and evidence is absolutely clear. I have always served the people of Santa Clara County and have never engaged in any behavior that would warrant the media animus, false legal narrative, or political attacks currently in the public domain. I have always dismissed these attacks for what they are – specious attempts by unsavory political opponents in retribution for serving the public with honor.

I am reminded of former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, whose reputation as a leader is finally being vindicated by history, even as he was viciously attacked and falsely charged while he served in office.

My plight is no different and I am confident history will show the first elected woman Sheriff to serve in California, was not only honorable—but her accomplishments will speak far louder and be remembered longer than the false stories that will be repudiated by truth. I believe in truth.

Yet, in the final analysis it would be unfair to the voters of Santa Clara County to force them to make a decision in the middle of a drama not of their making. Let the facts come out, let history record the result and let us continue to focus on providing the highest level of public safety service.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve.”

State Attorney General Rob Bonta earlier this year announced he was opening the civil rights investigation into the Sheriff’s Office over allegations that included misconduct in county jails and resistance to oversight.

Last August, the county’s Board of Supervisors gave Smith a unanimous vote of no confidence, citing alleged jail mismanagement, a “pay-to-play” scheme involving gun permits issued by her office, and the death or serious injury of inmates.

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