Staff Report

Rural crime detective John McCarthy, known for developing relationships throughout the county that helped him make arrests and close cases, retired in June after 24 years of service, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recently announced.

“His masterful use of human intelligence, interview technique, and available technology combined with his great law enforcement instincts are part of what make Detective McCarthy so effective in his position of the department’s lone rural crime detective,” Sheriff’s officials said.

They cited an example in February when McCarthy was called to a theft of agriculture equipment at a Santa Maria farm. His only bit of evidence at this location was a shoe impression. Soon, a second theft of agriculture chemicals and fuel was reported near the Santa Maria airport and while investigating that crime, McCarthy was able to match shoe impressions found at both scenes.

A detective with the Santa Maria Police Department then told McCarthy that he had a suspect in custody with ag equipment and fuel, and McCarthy was able to match the suspect with the shoe impressions.

McCarthy started his career with the Sheriff’s Department in March 1994 and worked in various departments, including search and rescue field training.

McCarthy is succeeded by Det. Jon Fleming, who has a long history of ranching and farming since his family came to the area in the 1920s. He has been in the Sheriff’s Department for 10 years in patrol and as a major crimes detective.

Fleming encourages rural residents to contact him about any issues or just to meet with him. His email is