Alameda County Sheriff's Office

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Alameda County Sheriff's Office
Abbreviation ACSO
Alameda County, CA Sheriff.jpg
Patch of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office
Agency overview
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of California, USA
Legal jurisdiction Alameda County, California
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Oakland, California
Sworn members 1000+
Unsworn members 500+
Sheriff responsible Gregory J. Ahern
Stations 5
Jails 2
Official website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) is a law enforcement agency serving Alameda County, California. ACSO is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the American Correctional Association (ACA), National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) and the California Medical Association (CMA).

As of 2008, ACSO has approximately 1500 positions, over 1000 of which are sworn peace officers.

ACSO is charged with:

  • Providing security to the consolidated superior courts
  • Operating the coroner's bureau
  • Operating a full-service crime laboratory
  • Operating a county jail and detention center
  • Conducting a basic academy pursuant to Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) requirements
  • Performing civil processes
  • Operating the county office of emergency services
  • Providing fish and game enforcement
  • Operating a marine patrol unit in the San Francisco Bay waters
  • Providing patrol and investigative services to the unincorporated areas of Alameda County
  • Pursuant to contractual agreements, providing patrol and investigative services to the city of Dublin, Peralta Community College District, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex, Oakland International Airport, Highland County Hospital, social services, and to the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District[1]

The sheriff coroner is an elected position currently filled by Gregory J. Ahern. The previous sheriff, Charles Plummer, served from 1987 to 2007.

Detention facilities[edit]

The ACSO operates two detention facilities. The Santa Rita Jail, located in Dublin, California, is the primary facility that houses most people arrested or convicted of crimes in Alameda County. The Glenn Dyer Detention Facility, also known as the North County Jail, houses a smaller number of inmates and is located in downtown Oakland. It is directly adjacent to the Wiley W. Manuel court building in which the majority of the county's criminal calendar is initially heard.[2]

Training and exercises[edit]

The ACSO operates a police academy and training exercises for the greater law enforcement community in the Bay Area.

Urban Shield[edit]

Urban Shield is a comprehensive, full-scale regional preparedness exercise assessing the overall Bay Area UASI Region's response capabilities related to multi-discipline planning, policies, procedures, organization, equipment and training.[3] The exercise allows planners to improve systems and techniques, and reports are generated to assist with budgetary planning for the coming years. Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern created Urban Shield in 2007 for law enforcement tactical teams to become better prepared to respond to any act of terror or major critical incident and to establish better relationships between law enforcement, fire personnel and medical personnel.

The overarching goals of Urban Shield include striving for the capability to present a multi-layered training exercise to enhance the skills and abilities of regional first responders, as well as those responsible for coordinating and managing large-scale events. Urban Shield was implemented to identify and stretch regional resources to their limits, while expanding regional collaboration and building positive relationships. In addition, this exercise provides increased local business and critical infrastructure collaboration.[4] Urban Shield improves regional disaster response capabilities and provides a platform for national and international first responders, as well as the private sector, to work efficiently and effectively together when critical incidents occur. [5]

Urban Shield is supported by the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative.[6] Since 2012, the Bay Area UASI tests portions of the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program as part of the full scale readiness exercise, such as the regional mass fatality plan.[7]

Hosted by the ACSO, Urban Shield is the largest urban full scale readiness exercise in the United States. Police, fire, hazmat, EMS and EOD teams from all over the nation train in multiple scenarios over a continuous 50-hour exercise. In the first year, scenarios included an active shooter on the UC Berkeley campus, an airplane hijacking, a maritime interdiction, and a 20-mile hike.[8]

Numerous first responders from around the county and the world have participated in or observed Urban Shield. Boston police commissioner Edward F. Davis credited Urban Shield with helping prepare the Boston Police Department for their response to the Boston Marathon bombing.[9]

Opposition to Urban Shield[edit]

In 2013, the Urban Shield training program was controversially held on the second anniversary of the removal of Occupy Oakland from Frank Ogawa Plaza.[10] Some community activists believed that Urban Shield was part of a militarization of civilian peace officers to limit free speech and assembly; claiming that Urban Shield was a forum for the arms industry.[11] In 2014, public pressure and outrage over Urban Shield led to Mayor Jean Quan's announcement that Oakland will not host the military weapons expo in 2015, marking the first such move since Urban Shield started in 2007.[12]

Eden Township substation[edit]

The ACSO operates a police substation in San Leandro, near John George Psychiatric Pavilion, and a juvenile detention center.

Crime laboratory[edit]

The ACSO operates a crime laboratory that is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. The crime lab, located at the Eden Township substation, receives and analyzes evidence from law enforcement agencies throughout Alameda County. The crime lab has capabilities in controlled substance analysis, latent fingerprint recovery, ballistics, tool mark identification, and DNA extraction and analysis. Crime lab staff can also serve as crime scene investigators upon request by law enforcement agencies in the county.[13]

Coroner's bureau[edit]

The ACSO operates the coroner's bureau in downtown Oakland. Coroner's pathologists, deputy sheriffs, forensic death investigators, and sheriff's technicians assist law enforcement agencies to determine the type and manner of death of persons in Alameda County. Additional duties include making contact with next of kin, and when needed, the seizure and protection of decedents' assets. In special circumstances the ACSO decides when to refer cases to the public administrator, such as when next of kin cannot be located.[14]

Topics of controversy[edit]

In early 2013, Ahern was one of the first law enforcement officers in California to propose purchasing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).[15] Opponents petitioned the purchase, and formed the organization Alameda County Against Drones (ACAD).[16]The ACAD gained nationwide attention resulting in the board of supervisors failing to approve the purchase. [17]

With the June 2014 election, a group called "Elections for the People" expressed concern that for many decades the position of sheriff, while elected, has not been a contested election. The current sheriff, Ahern, was selected by the prior sheriff, Plummer, and has run twice, unopposed.[18] The 2012 salary for the sheriff of Alameda was over $547,000; this included a base salary of $267,871 and other benefits and payments.[19]

Rank structure[edit]

Title Insignia
New York Fire Department Chief Rank.png
3 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant sheriff
2 Gold Stars.svg
1 Gold Star.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg


Memorial to fallen officers from Alameda County, including Sheriff's Office forces, Lone Tree Cemetery, Fairview

During the Free Speech Movement riots of the 1960s, the Alameda County sheriff deployed several squads of deputies. Clad in light blue jumpsuits, they quickly became known by anti-government protesters as the "Blue Meanies".[20]

In November 2010, October and November 2011, and January 2012, Alameda County sheriff's deputies were requested by the Oakland Police Department and supplied by the sheriff to assist at protests.[21][22]

Former sheriffs[edit]

Activist Stew Albert ran for sheriff in 1970, garnering 65,000 more votes than the previous sheriff, who had supervised his incarceration.

Other law enforcement agencies[edit]

Most of the cities within the county have their own police forces, including the Alameda Police Department, the Berkeley Police Department, the Oakland Police Department, the San Leandro Police Department, the Hayward Police Department and the Fremont Police Department. The municipal police departments provide routine law enforcement services for those cities, with the ACSO providing corresponding services for unincorporated regions of Alameda County and the city of Dublin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alameda County Sheriff's Office
  2. ^ Alameda County Sheriff's Office - Detention & Corrections Division
  3. ^ Urban Shield 2013: So Much More than a SWAT Thing
  4. ^ Urban Shield Supporting Agencies
  5. ^ Urban Shield Website
  6. ^ [1] Bay Area UASI Training and Exercise Page
  7. ^ [2] Regional Mass Fatality Plan
  8. ^ Urban Shield Alameda County Sheriff's Office
  9. ^ [3] Commissioner Davis
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Alameda County Sheriff's Office - Criminalistics Laboratory
  14. ^ Alameda County Sheriff's Office - Coroner's Bureau
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Nation: Occupied Berkeley, TIME, Friday, May. 30, 1969
  21. ^ [4], FogCityJournal, October 27th, 2011
  22. ^ [5], San Francisco Chronicle, June 24th, 2013
  • Sheriffs from 1853 to 1883 - "History of Alameda County", M.W. Wood, 1883.

External links[edit]