Taylor appointed to sheriff’s post

Captain will fill unexpired term of retiring Sheriff Darren Thompson

San Benito County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Taylor will become the county’s new sheriff and coroner starting June 26, and will complete the unexpired term of incumbent Darren Thompson which expires in January 2023.

The board of supervisors unanimously appointed Taylor as the new sheriff-coroner at the April 27 meeting.

Thompson announced his retirement from the sheriff’s office, and from his 33-year career in law enforcement, at the April 13 board meeting. In making his announcement, Thompson held up his “police academy board,” which depicts the 13 police agencies and 34 classmates he trained with in the state academy in 1988.

“Of all the people that I went to the police academy with, I am the only one that’s still working. That means it’s time for me to go,” Thompson told the board. His retirement is effective June 25.

Under state government code, the county board of supervisors must fill the unexpired term of an elected sheriff by appointment. State law does not authorize the board to call a special election.

Thompson had asked the board to appoint his replacement in an “expeditious” fashion so he can facilitate the transition to new leadership.

San Benito Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Taylor

The supervisors after April 13 had set up individual interviews with all three captains of the sheriff’s office—Taylor, Tony Lamonica and Roy Iler. In the days that followed, Lamonica and Iler withdrew from consideration for the sheriff’s post, leaving Taylor as the board’s obvious choice.

The next election for the office of San Benito County Sheriff is scheduled for June 7, 2022. Until then, Taylor will serve as the county’s top law enforcement official.

“We’re going to treat everybody with dignity and respect. I will serve everybody equally in this role,” Taylor told the board.

Several members of the public spoke at the April 27 in support of Taylor’s appointment as sheriff, touting his longtime local career and service to the community. That service includes not only his law enforcement responsibilities, but also his involvement with local high school sports and volunteerism for nonprofits that assist farmworkers, youth and other underserved populations.

“Captain Taylor is a champion for the students,” San Benito County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto said.

Former Supervisor Jim Gillio called Taylor “a community leader who donates his time.”

The supervisors received letters of support for Taylor from District Attorney Candice Hooper, retired Watsonville Police Chief Manny Solano and Hollister Fire Chief Bob Martin del Campo.

“Eric is bilingual, empathetic and knowledgeable of the community. (He) has a family who is working and attending school in the community,” Martin del Campo’s letter says. “This alone shows his commitment, and his investment to give all for the community in this appointment.”

After a brief discussion in which supervisors thanked Thompson for his service, the board took a unanimous vote to appoint Taylor April 27. In San Benito County, the sheriff also serves as the county coroner.

Thompson won his third consecutive four-year term as county sheriff in the 2018 election. Before winning his first election in San Benito County, Thompson worked for the Watsonville Police Department for 22 years.

San Benito County Sheriff Darren Thompson will retire from his law enforcement career as of June 26.