San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

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San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department
Common name San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department
Abbreviation SBCSD
Patch of the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department.png
Patch of the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department
Flag of San Bernardino County, California.png
Flag of San Bernardino County, California
Motto Dedicated to Your Safety
Agency overview
Formed 1853
Employees 3,700
Annual budget $440 million
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* County of San Bernardino in the state of California, U.S.
Size 20,186 sq mi (52,280 km2).
Legal jurisdiction San Bernardino County, California
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters San Bernardino, California
Sworn members 2,000
Unsworn members 1,200
Sheriff responsible John McMahon
Stations 16
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department (SBSD) serves San Bernardino County, California, which is geographically the largest county in the United States (excluding Alaska's boroughs). SBSD provides law enforcement services to the unincorporated areas of the county and contract law enforcement services to 14 of the county's cities, serving a total of 1,029,466 of the county's 2 million residents. The department also operates the county jail system, provides marshal services for the county superior courts, and has numerous other specialized divisions to serve the citizens of San Bernardino County.[1][2]

The Sheriff-Coroner is an elected office. However, in 2012 when then-Sheriff Rod Hoops announced his retirement, the Board of Supervisors appointed Assistant Sheriff John McMahon to the position. The Board made the appointment after determining that a special election for sheriff would be cost prohibitive ($3.5 million). McMahon announced that he intends to run for sheriff in 2014.


Early Sheriffs of San Bernardino County[edit]

When San Bernardino County was established in 1853, its first Sheriff was a Mormon, Robert Clift, who served until 1857. On January 12, 1856, a volunteer militia unit known as the San Bernardino Rangers was organized under the command of Captain Andrew Lytle to aid the Sheriff in suppressing raids by Indians and the gangs of outlaws like the Flores Daniel Gang that plagued the County.[3][4] Sheriff Clift left for Utah that year and was followed in office by Joseph Bridger who held the office until 1859.

Valentine Herring was next as Sheriff until the fall of 1860. Herring was replaced by Charles W. Piercey who held the office until he resigned in October 1860 to run for the State Assembly. Anson Van Leuvan served as Sheriff from 1860 to 1862. He had difficulties enforcing the law in Belleville and the other boom towns of the Holcomb Valley gold rush and with the turbulence caused in the County by the secession crisis and the beginning of the American Civil War. Eli M. Smith elected in the fall of 1861, was known for his pursuit of a gang of horse thieves who had been operating in the county for several months stealing horses made precious by the wartime need for horseflesh. On one occasion Sheriff Smith rode into an outlaw camp, recovering a herd of stolen horses and arresting three thieves. By the end of his term in office he had convicted 18 men of horse theft and sent them to prison.

Sheriff Benjamin F. Mathews elected Sept. 14, 1863, served from October, 1863 to October, 1865.[5] In September 1865 the outlaw James Henry of the Mason Henry Gang and his gang of rustlers, robbers and murderers were in the county, camped out near San Bernardino. Sheriff Mathews and his posse led by John Rogers (a gang member sent to town to obtain provisions and captured after drunken boasting), found and surprised Henry camped in Railroad Canyon, (then called San Jacinto Canyon), about twenty-five miles south of town. At sunrise on September 14, 1865, the posse approached cautiously but Henry awoke and fired three shots, striking one posse member in the foot. Henry died in a hail of gunfire, sustaining 57 wounds. His corpse was taken back to town, photographed and his body was displayed to the public in Old West fashion.[6][7]

Some of the other men holding the office of Sheriff in the early years were George T. Fulgham was Sheriff from (1865 to 1869), Newton Noble (1869–1873), J. C Curry (1873–1877), William Davies (1877–1879), John King (1879–1882), J. B. Burkhart (1882–1884), Nelson G. Gill (1884–1885), Edwin Chidsey Seymour (1888–1892), James P. Booth (1892-1894), Charles A. Rouse (1894–1895), John C. Ralphs (1902–1915), J. L. McMinn (1915–1918). |}

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, 15 officers have died in the line of duty.[8]

Officer Date of death Details
Deputy Sheriff William Francis Smithson
Sunday, October 20, 1907
Town Marshall James Monroe West Jr
Monday, July 6, 1925
Police Officer Harry Samuel Thompson
Monday, June 10, 1935
Deputy Sheriff William Jackson Litz
Saturday, May 23, 1959
Struck By Train
Reserve Deputy Billy R Heckle
Monday, February 15, 1960
Lieutenant Alfred Elder Stewart
Friday, March 9, 1973
Deputy Sheriff Frank Marion Pribble
Sunday, July 6, 1975
Deputy Sheriff Clifford E Sanchez
Saturday, April 6, 1985
Deputy Sheriff Donald J Demeulle
Thursday, July 31, 1986
Aircraft Accident
Deputy Sheriff Keith B Farley
Saturday, April 12, 1987
Automobile Accident
Deputy Sheriff Russell Dean Roberts
Saturday, September 16, 1995
Struck By Vehicle
Deputy Sheriff Ronald Wayne Ives
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Motorcycle Accident
Deputy Sheriff Gregory Alan Gariepy
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Automobile Accident
Deputy Sheriff Daniel Jess Lobo Jr
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Motorcycle Accident
Detective Jeremiah Alan MacKay
Tuesday, February 12, 2013


The current San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner is John McMahon (formerly an Assistant Sheriff). When appointed in December 2012 McMahon replaced Rod Hoops, who replaced Gary Penrod who retired on January 31, 2009.

Serving below the Sheriff is the Undersheriff. As in most counties, the undersheriff is second-in-command of the entire Sheriff's Department.

Beneath the Undersheriff are two Assistant Sheriffs. One Assistant Sheriff is in charge of Operations and the other is in charge of Support (administration and logistics).

SBSD is organized into Divisions. Each division is commanded by a Deputy Chief.

The divisions are:

Administrative Services Bureau[edit]

This bureau operates the following divisions:

  • Emergency Services- Aviation and Volunteer Forces.
    • Aviation provides services including general law enforcement support, surveillance, fire suppression, medical transport, and search and rescue duties. It operates 6 Astar B-3 Eurocopters, 1 Mcdonnell Douglas MD500E, 2 Bell UH-1H Super Huey II's, 1 Bell 212, 1 Sikorsky H-3, 1 Aero Commander Grand Reconnaissance, and 1 Cessna 182.[citation needed] Deemed the third largest, non-military air force in the world.[9][not in citation given]
    • Volunteer Forces supports the 2,000 volunteers within 112 units in SBSD. These units include Reserve Deputies, Explorer Scouts, and Search and Rescue members. These people, working for free, donate an average of 500,000 hours a year to the county.[10]
  • Employee Resources- The personnel in this division participate in recruiting, conduct background investigations on potential employees, are responsible for payroll and benefits, and oversee the issuance of Concealed Weapons Permits.
  • Training- This includes the Basic Academy, the Emergency Vehicle Operations Center, the Advanced Officer Training Center, and Firearms Training Center.
    • SBSD operates its own intensive, structured format, on-site post certified basic academy in conjunction with San Bernardino Valley College. The program is 23 weeks in length.
    • The Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (EVOC) provides driving training to entry level and in-service officers.
    • The Advanced Officer Training Center provides advanced law enforcement courses in a variety of topics to both sworn and non-sworn personnel.
    • The Firearms Training Center provides firearms training to SBSD and numerous other agencies in Southern California. Additionally every trimester SBSD deputies as well as several other county agencies conduct firearms qualifications, perishable skills, and other important training through the center's Range/Use of Force Unit.

Detentions and Corrections Bureau[edit]

SBSD operates a total of 9 jail facilities throughout the county. The average daily inmate population is 5,600. In 2006, 107,606 people were booked into these jails. The bureau operates the following Type-II jails that are used for long term housing:[11]

  • West Valley Detention Center - This is SBSD's main jail facility and opened in June 1991. It is located in Rancho Cucamonga. It is used primarily to house pre-sentenced county inmates, and is capable of housing 3,291 inmates daily.
  • Central Detention Center - This facility served as SBSD's main jail since its opening in 1971. It is located in downtown San Bernardino. It is primarily used to house pre-sentenced county inmates and federal inmates, and averages a daily population of 930. The US Marshal Service also uses the facility as the west coast hub for transporting and housing federal inmates.
  • Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center - This facility primarily serves as housing for inmates sentenced to county jail. It also houses some pre-sentence inmates. It averages a population of 1020 inmates daily. It is located in Devore, at the north end of San Bernardino.
  • High Desert Detention Center - This is SBSD's newest jail facility located in Adelanto, California, which opened in January 2006. It is used to house approximately 700 pre-sentence inmates per day. It is not to be confused with the Adelanto Detention Center, a private facility under contract to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house immigration detainees. Both are located in Adelanto, California, the SBSD facility on Commerce Way and the ICE facility on Rancho Road.
    • Victor Valley Jail - This jail facility is a Type-1 jail run by the Adelanto Detention Center. It is located at the Victorville Superior Court complex.
  • Transportation Detail - This detail operates 12 buses, 13 vans, and 2 cars to transport an average of 286,000 yearly, mostly to court appearances. In 2006, the detail accumulated 934,000 miles (1,503,000 km).

Patrol Operations Region I[edit]

This bureau provides law enforcement services to the densely populated southwest corner of the county, which includes parts of the San Bernardino Valley, Pomona Valley, Cucamonga Valley, and the communities in the San Bernardino Mountains.[12] This area also operates a Type I Jail booking facility.

Patrol Operations Region II[edit]

This bureau provides law enforcement services to the large Mojave Desert portion of the county.[12] The deputies at many of these stations operate in remote areas. This area also operates 3 of SBSD's Type I Jail booking facilities.

  • Apple Valley Police Department - This station provides contract law enforcement exclusively to the Town of Apple Valley.
  • Barstow Station - Provides law enforcement services the unincorporated areas around the City of Barstow. This area includes unincorporated Barstow, Lenwood, Grandview, Hinkley, Yermo, Daggett, Newberry Springs, Trona, Baker, Red Mountain, Kramer Junction, Helendale, Fort Irwin, and Ludlow. This station also has resident deputy sub-stations in Trona and Baker. The Barstow Station covers 9,219 square miles (23,880 km2) and has the largest patrol area in the county.
    • Barstow Jail - This Type I Jail is used as a booking facility for the Barstow area and court holding for the Barstow Superior Court. It is located at the Barstow Station.
  • Colorado River Station - Serves the unincorporated areas at the east end of the county near Needles and provides contract law enforcement to the city of Needles. The areas include Big River, Parker Dam, and Havasu Landing. This station has a resident deputy sub-station in Havasu Landing. It also operates a Marine Enforcement unit that patrols San Bernardino County's portion of the Colorado River.
    • Needles Jail - This Type I Jail is used as a booking facility for the Needles area and court holding for the Needles Superior Court. It is located at the Colorado River Station.
  • Hesperia Police Department- This station provides law enforcement services only for the City of Hesperia.
  • Morongo Basin Station - Serves the unincorporated areas of the Morongo Basin and provides contract law enforcement services to the Cities of Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. The unincorporated areas includes the Morongo Valley, Landers, Johnson Valley, Joshua Tree, Wonder Valley, Pioneertown, Amboy, Cadiz, and Flamingo Heights.
    • Morongo Jail - This Type I Jail is used as a booking facility for the Morongo Basin and court holding for the Joshua Tree Superior Court. It is located at the Morongo Basin Station.
  • Victor Valley Station - Provides law enforcement to the unincorporated areas of the Victor Valley and the City of Adelanto. This area includes Helendale, Oro Grande, Mountain View Acres, Pinon Hills, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, Phelan, Lucerne Valley, Spring Valley Lake, El Mirage, Cajon Junction, Summit Valley, and Silver Lakes. This station has sub-stations in Lucerne Valley and Phelan.
  • Victorville Police Department- This station provides contract law enforcement exclusively to the City of Victorville.

Specialized Operations Bureau[edit]

  • Crime Impact Team

The Specialized Enforcement Division Crime Impact Team has responsibility for gathering intelligence, conducting investigations into violent crime offenders, and SWAT responsibilities. The team members are cross-sworn as United States Marshall's and work closely with them in apprehending fugitives across the country. The Crime Impact Team investigates serious crimes occurring in the county as requested by the stations/divisions, and as assigned by the commander.

  • Arson/Bomb Detail

The Arson/Bomb Detail investigates all suspicious fires within the sheriff's department jurisdiction including fire related deaths, insurance fraud, arson for retaliation, and arson to conceal other crimes or to destroy crime scenes. The Detail is also called upon by many fire agencies to assist with the investigation of arson related fires. The detail and its members are accredited by the FBI in handling explosive devices, military ordinance and unknown suspicious packages. The detail utilizes an explosives trained K-9, "JoJo" to detect many different explosive odors and powders. The detail maintains one of the largest police bomb ranges on the West Coast. It is used by local bomb squads, as well as others from throughout the southern California region, for training and the destruction of confiscated explosives, ammunition, and fireworks.

  • Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.)

In addition to other duties, a majority of the Specialized Enforcement deputies are trained as SWAT operators. They train a minimum of 36 hours a month to include: marksmanship skills; rappelling from buildings, cliffs and helicopters; helicopter insertion skills; and stealth and hostage rescue tactics. SWAT team members possess specialty skills in explosive entries and entries using night vision equipment. The National Tactical Officers Association, in the Summer 2000 issue of The Tactical Edge, recognized SBCSD's SWAT team as one of the premier teams in the country. All specialty skills derived from SWAT are beneficial to members during their daily duties, which frequently bring team members in contact with violent and/or armed suspects.

  • SMASH / Regional Gang Unit

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Regional Gang Unit consists of two Gang Enforcement Teams. These teams operate as a countywide gang suppression effort. Each team consists of Sheriff’s Deputies, Probation Officers and members of the California Highway Patrol. The teams’ focus is on identifying existing and newly emerging street gangs and gang members, tracking criminal gang activities, and assisting in the prosecution of gang members. The teams are actively involved in assisting the Department’s Homicide Division and allied agencies with gang related homicides and shootings. The County’s revitalization of S.M.A.S.H. and aggressive gang suppression efforts by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and local law enforcement agencies has resulted in an increased number of identified gangs and gang members.


SBC Sheriff's department operates a sizable fleet of helicopters. Shown here are a Bell 212 (foreground) and a Sikorsky S-61 at the air unit's Rialto headquarters.
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department AS350 B3

Aviation provides services including general law enforcement support, surveillance, fire suppression, medical transport, and search and rescue duties. It operates the following aircraft:

See also[edit]