Clint Cole’s official retirement date is March 10 — the same date as Paul Flores’ sentencing

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — After a 32-year career with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Clint Cole has announced his retirement. 

The Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday, Feb. 7, that Cole’s last day will be March 10 — the same day Paul Flores is scheduled to be sentenced for the murder of Kristin Smart. Cole became the lead investigator in the Smart case in 2019 and is credited with leading that investigation to a successful conclusion with the arrest of Flores on April 13, 2021, and his conviction on Oct. 18, 2022. 

“I am extremely proud of the work Clint has done for this agency, especially with regard to the Kristin Smart investigation,” said SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson. “He has accomplished much in his 32-year career, and his retirement is well-deserved.” 


Cole was hired at the Sheriff’s Office as a correctional officer in 1990. He started as a patrol deputy in 1996. From 2002 to 2014, Cole worked in the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit, as a school resource deputy and as a sexual assault investigator. In 2014, he was promoted to senior deputy. In 2017, he was selected to be the first investigator assigned to the newly created position of cold case/unsolved homicide detective. And then in 2019 he was assigned to the Kristin Smart case. 

“It is very satisfying to see Paul Flores convicted for the murder of Kristin Smart,” Cole said. “I hope I’ve been able to give the Smart family some measure of justice for Kristin.” 

Cole is also credited with solving three other high-profile homicides in San Luis Obispo County: The 41-year-old murder cases of Jane Antunez and Patricia Dwyer in Atascadero and assisting with the 2018 murder investigation of Nancy Woodrum in Paso Robles. Cole credits his family, Kay and daughter Audra, and his father John for all their support during the long hours he worked on cases. As for retirement plans, for right now he just plans “to relax” and spend more time with his family.