H-SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Dec 29, 2011 7:56 PM by Courtney Meznarich

A look back at Sheriff Ian Parkinson's first year on the job

San Luis Obispo County welcomed a new sheriff just days into 2011 and with that came new promises. Sheriff Ian Parkinson is the county's first new sheriff in 12 years, but did he help his department accomplish all the goals he'd hoped in his first year?

Earlier this week, he talked to KSBY about what he did check off his "to-do" list and what still needs to be done in 2012.

After 24 months of campaigning, the former San Luis Obispo Police captain was sworn as San Luis Obispo County Sheriff January 3. He told us then his first priority was setting the budget straight.

"We're very fortunate to not be in a position that we're taking these drastic cuts that are really jeopardizing what I'm here to do," he said Wednesday. Amid $750,000 in cuts to the department, all jobs were spared by leaving some vacant positions unfilled. In fact, some new deputies were recently hired.

And just this week, three four-legged law enforcers were also introduced, part of Parkinson's goal to expand the canine program.

The sheriff also made expanding the women's jail a priority, and he says he made headway in 2011. "We are hopefully breaking ground by beginning of the summer," he said. "It's moving along very well."

The sheriff says the department will soon take over the county's Narcotics Task Force Unit. It was formerly a state responsibility, but was a recent casualty of budget cuts.

"I guarantee that the gang task force will double and we'll increase our narcotics unit size," he said Wednesday. "We'll take over responsibility for the cities that contract with us. "

Parkinson hopes to continue expanding volunteerism within the department in 2012, citing successes in 2011. The volunteer dive team recovered the body of a child who drowned in Lake Nacimiento. Then search and rescue crews used Lassie the dog to bring a missing Los Osos woman with Dementia home safely. "And it often gets overlooked that when you have a dive team that shows up with six people and search team that shows up with 30, it's not costing us a dime."

With 15 public meetings to get to know county residents, the sheriff says he also met his community outreach goal. "I felt that we've come a long way in a year compared to years past."

Parkinson also pledged to re-examine all evidence in the disappearance of Kristin Smart. She vanished in 1996.

Evidence was sent to a forensics lab back in September, and now investigators are just waiting for results. They continue to process additional pieces of evidence.

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