Former San Luis Obispo police officer Greg Clayton intends to run for San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s seat during the next election.
Clayton said Friday he plans to run a campaign of “justice and reform” based on the 12 deaths at County Jail during the past five years. The case of Andrew Holland, a 36-year-old Atascadero man who died in custody in January 2017 after spending 46 hours strapped to a restraint chair, compelled Clayton to step forward, he said.
“I feel strongly that an elected sheriff has to be an advocate for all,” Clayton said in a news release, “including the inmates with mental illness who are entrusted to the sheriff’s care.”
Holland’s family received a $5 million settlement from the county in July 2017, which they planned to use to advocate for mentally ill people trapped in the criminal justice system. The family called upon Sheriff Parkinson to resign over their son’s death and the “blatant cover-up” that followed.
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Clayton graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in political science and has lived in San Luis Obispo County since 1975. He began working for the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 1979, and took an early medical retirement after suffering an on-duty motorcycle injury.
Clayton has served as a private investigator in San Luis Obispo for the past 25 years, working civil claims and criminal investigations for government agencies, insurance companies and attorneys.
Parkinson has served as Sheriff since January 2011 and was elected to a second four-year term after running unopposed in 2014.
Though Clayton said he has a “good personal relationship” with Parkinson, he also said reform in the department and the interrelated county mental health system is overdue.
“After eight years of his leadership, our current sheriff has the dubious distinction of leading a department that has three times the national death rate of in-custody inmates,” Clayton said. “I strongly believe I can be an agent of change in the jail and the entire department, that I can lead the department forward while providing transparency, accountability and citizen’s oversight.”
Clayton said he would pursue several key issues if elected:
▪ deaths of inmates in County Jail;
▪ lack of a dedicated psychiatric care facility at the County Jail;
▪ lack of “on-site leadership” overseeing and managing the jail system, along with citizen oversight;
▪ establish an Independent Medical Examiner’s Office.
Clayton said he is not a career politician and does not have aspirations for public office beyond the sheriff’s position.