Board of Supervisors unanimously selects assistant sheriff to step in as interim sheriff

Assistant Sheriff Anthony Ray will be sworn in next month to finish the term of recently retired Sheriff Bill Gore


A high-ranking member of the Sheriff’s Department command staff will step in as San Diego County’s interim sheriff for the next nine months.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday, March 22, to tap Assistant Sheriff Anthony Ray to run the department, which has about 4,600 staffers and an annual budget of more than $1 billion. It provides policing for nine cites and the unincorporated areas of the county, provides security for the courts and runs seven county jails.

Assistant Sheriff Anthony Ray
Assistant Sheriff Anthony Ray was unanimously selected by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to serve as interim sheriff, finishing term left vacant by the February retirement of Sheriff Bill Gore.
(San Diego County Sheriff’s Department)

Ray will be sworn in April 5 and hold the office until January, finishing the term left vacant last month by the retirement of Sheriff Bill Gore.

Once a new sheriff is sworn in, Ray will return to his job as assistant sheriff overseeing courts and human resources.

Until then, Ray will steer a department grappling with a scathing state auditor’s report prompted by a high number of deaths in the county jails the department runs — 185 deaths over 15 years. The audit found the Sheriff’s Department failed to prevent and respond to the deaths, and called for the Legislature to force the department to make fixes.

Additionally, several studies — including a recent one commissioned by the Sheriff’s Department — have found racial disparities in stops, searches and uses of force.

After the unanimous vote, Board Chair Nathan Fletcher issued a statement about the selection.

“As a Board, we selected an Interim Sheriff who has demonstrated a commitment to reducing violent crime, improving the conditions in our jails, and embracing law enforcement best practices, along with a commitment to racial justice,” Fletcher said.

“I appreciate each candidate for their participation and look forward to working with Interim Sheriff Anthony Ray to fulfill their responsibilities to our communities, and County.”

Ray was the only one of the three candidates that the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed last week to include in the final round of interviews.

The other two candidates were Edwin Brock and Michael Barletta. Brock, who led the San Marcos sheriff’s station and retired as a lieutenant, is the chief of police in Arvin, a city outside Bakersfield. Barletta retired as a commander, and is currently an instructor and consultant.

Until Ray is sworn in next month, Undersheriff Kelly Martinez is the acting sheriff.

Neither Ray nor his two competitors for the interim spot are running for the job in the upcoming election. The primary election on June 7 will mark the first time in more than 30 years that an incumbent sheriff is not on the ballot.

Fletcher made it clear when Gore retired that he did not want to select as an interim sheriff someone who was running for the office in the upcoming election.