Laurie Smith

Embattled Santa Clara County Sheriff Looks Back at Nearly 50-Year Career

Smith admits the glow of being the first woman ever elected sheriff in California has faded as she now battles corruption and misconduct accusations from a civil grand jury

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Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said she isn’t resigning, but will not run again for the office she’s held for 24 years. 

It's clear she's already starting to say her goodbyes, and the ongoing scandal and legal fights are the reasons why.

“For this to be at the end of my career really, really hurts,” she said. “And with the way the internet is and everything, I have to put this to rest. To save the reputation that I’ve earned over all of those years.”

Forty-nine years to be exact, when she first put on a badge in 1973.

“You couldn’t even take the test for deputy sheriff if you were a woman which is why I was a deputy sheriff matron and so … I’ve been at it as long as you can. Having almost a 50-year career is amazing. I’m so fortunate,” said Smith. 

But she admits the glow of being the first woman ever elected sheriff in California has faded as she now battles corruption and misconduct accusations from a civil grand jury, including claims of issuing concealed gun permits for political donations. 

Accusations that led to a no confidence vote by the board of supervisors and numerous calls for her to resign.

Smith calls the grand jury process, in this case, an arbitrary abuse of power.

“I know the truth and I know what will come out,” said Smith.   “Abuse of power by those that are in power, the Board of Supervisors and certainly Jeff Rosen.”

When asked about her comments Friday, District Attorney Jeff Rosen replied with a statement saying, in part, “we will soon have a new sheriff. This county deserves a sheriff who has the highest integrity and the trust of the community to protect and serve fairly and professionally."

“I’m a street fighter. I will see this through,” said Smith. 

When asked why she wouldn’t run again she said, “It’s the public. It’s not fair to the public to have to have this kind of distraction.”

Smith said history will show a department that accomplished a lot under her leadership  including solving major cases such as the Sierra Lamar kidnapping and the bravery of deputies at the VTA mass shootings.

“I think the legacy is tarnished until this is over,” said Smith. “But I think the legacy will be what we’ve done together.”

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