Ventura County Sheriff's Office
|Ventura County Sheriff's Office|
Patch of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, used since the 1970s.
Seal of Ventura County
Badge of the Sheriff of Ventura County
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||County (United States) of Ventura in the state of California, U.S.|
|VCSO Official Website|
|* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
The Ventura County Sheriff's Office (also sometimes known as the Ventura County Sheriff's Department) provides law enforcement for the unincorporated areas of Ventura County, California as well as several cities within the county. The cities that Ventura County Sheriff's Office provides police services for are Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, and Thousand Oaks.
The mission of the VCSO is stated by it to be: "We, the members of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, are committed to safeguard the lives and property of the residents of Ventura County and respond to public concerns in a manner which promotes neighborhoods free from the fear of crime."
The Office of the Sheriff for Ventura County began in February 1873, with the election of Sheriff Frank Peterson. What began as a duty to collect taxes and catch horse thieves has evolved significantly as the county has changed and grown. Seventeen other Sheriffs have held the Office of the Sheriff since 1873. The administration of justice (and more criminals going to trial rather than the dispensing of "frontier justice") became more sophisticated during the late 19th century. Sheriff Edmund Guy McMartin, a popular and upright man who was elected Sheriff five times, was the first and only Sheriff killed in the line of duty while apprehending a murder suspect in 1921.
Public hangings and bootlegging arrests gave way to police practices and procedures commonly recognized today. The modern era of Ventura County law enforcement began in 1959 with Sheriff William Hill. The 1970s saw the genesis of community involvement programs like Community Orientated Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS), DARE and Neighborhood Watch. Today, the cornerstone of county policing is the partnership between the Sheriff's Office and county residents.
The sheriff is elected in the county general elections, and he subsequently appoints his two Assistant Sheriff's. The Assistant Sheriff's manage two specific "services," or divisions, within the department.
- One Assistant Sheriff manages the Detention Services oversees the jails and courts within the county, and has three supervising commanders. They also are responsible for Special Services, a varied division that includes the Air Unit, Major Crimes, Narcotics, Intelligence, Bomb Unit, SWAT, Hostage Negotiations, Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Information Systems, and Evidence Unit. There are two commanders assigned to head these units.
- One Assistant Sheriff manages Patrol Services and is responsible for the patrol deputies, and has four commanders. They also manage Support Services which includes records, human resources, internal affairs, and training academy units. There are two commanders subordinate to the Chief Deputy of Support Services.
The ranks of the VCSO are as follows, with approximate number of personnel in parentheses:
- Sheriff (1)
- Assistant Sheriff (2)
- Commander (11)
- Captain (26)
- Sergeant (100)
- Senior Deputy (170)
- Deputy (600)
Deputies killed in the line of duty
- Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko (Died October 28, 2014)
Deputy Kostiuchenko, an 11-year veteran, was killed while concluding a traffic stop on the 101 freeway at the Lewis Road off-ramp, in the city of Camarillo. At approximately 1:15 am, Deputy Kostiuchenko was returning to his marked patrol vehicle when a second vehicle, driven by 25-year-old Kevin Hogrefe, struck the deputy, causing fatal injuries. Kevin Hogrefe, an alleged drunk driver, left the scene of the accident and was captured by additional deputies approximately 2 miles away at the Las Posas Road off ramp, after Hogrefe collided with a second vehicle, disabling his own.
- Deputy Robert D. Bornet (Died November 6, 2006)
Deputy Bornet, a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was killed in a traffic accident while attempting to stop a motorist for a vehicle code violation. Deputy Bornet was in uniform and driving in his personal vehicle when the accident occurred. Deputy Bornet also proudly served 19 years in the United States Navy earning the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. Robert is survived by his wife Vicki; and their four children, Katie, Leslie, Daniel, and Christopher.
- Senior Deputy Lisa Whitney (Died August 12, 1998)
Senior Deputy Whitney was killed in a traffic accident when a driver failed to stop at an inoperative traffic light in Ventura. Lisa was Officer of the Year in 1996. Her strong work ethic gained her the position of investigator with the Major Crimes Unit after serving only eight years as an officer. Lisa was a member of our Mounted Patrol Unit, the Mounted Honor Guard, and a certified trainer throughout California. Lisa is remembered as the "Angel on horseback."
- Deputy Peter Aguirre (Died July 17, 1996)
Deputy Aguirre was shot while responding to a domestic call in the City of Ojai. The suspect was also shot, but survived and was prosecuted. Peter started as a cadet with our Department and served as a Deputy for over two years. Peter was admired by fellow deputies for his compassion and ability to deal with people. Sheriff Carpenter described Peter as a "terrific officer with a bright future."
- Sergeant Tom Collins (Died October 25, 1975)
Sergeant Collins died when the helicopter he was flying crashed into the Santa Clara riverbed. Tom started the helicopter unit for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office in 1971. Prior to working for our Department, he flew helicopters for the Navy. As a Naval Lieutenant, Tom was the youngest commissioned officer at that time.
- Lieutenant Harvey Varat (Died October 20, 1973)
Lieutenant Varat, a 14-year law enforcement veteran, was on a search and rescue training exercise in the Santa Susanna Mountains when he was bit by a tick and infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He died four days later from the fever. Hank helped develop the S.W.A.T. Team, Deep-Sea Diving Team, and the Search and Rescue Team. He is best remembered by his co-workers as his picture portrays, an organizer and an outdoors man contracted during a Search and Rescue exercise.
- Detective Donald E. Haynie (Died June 5, 1970)
Detective Haynie was shot while attempting to make a narcotics arrest in Fillmore. Haynie and three other plainclothes sheriff's narcotics agents entered the house of a suspected drug dealer. The suspect's 78-year-old father shot Haynie once in the chest. The shooting was determined to be a misunderstanding, and the father was released. Donald served as a military police officer in the Army. He also enjoyed hunting with fellow officers and spending time with his family.
- Deputy Chester Larson (Died January 20, 1969)
Deputy Larson drowned while attempting to rescue a group of hikers at Sespe Creek. Chico was stranded in a stalled rescue tractor in the middle of the river and was washed off the top of the tractor with 10 other victims. There was one survivor. Two days, earlier, Chico saved a party of 12 school girls and 2 adults. He was stationed at Lockwood Valley.
- Deputy Earl Mendenhall (Died June 15, 1961)
Deputy Mendenhall died from injuries received in a traffic collision when the mentally ill prisoner Mendenhall was transporting grabbed the steering wheel and directed the car into oncoming traffic. Earl served as a police officer for the City of Ventura prior to working for the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. He served in World War II with the U.S. Marine Corps.
- Reserve Deputy Bryce Patten (Died August 19, 1960)
Reserve (Auxiliary) Deputy Patten was shot while working a roadblock on Casitas Pass Road. The suspects in a $150 liquor store robbery shot Patten to avoid being caught. The three suspects were caught in Bakersfield six days later and prosecuted. Bryce graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was a full-time history teacher at Ventura High School. His students described him as a teacher with whom they liked to work. He donated many hours to improve his patrol skills, and served the children in the community as a Boy Scout Troop Leader. Bryce was survived by his wife, Diane, and their children, Charles and Lucinda.
- Deputy Donald Gregory (Died September 9, 1951)
Deputy Gregory was killed instantly when the patrol car his partner was driving hit a telephone pole. An unidentified wrong way driver caused the collision on Highway 118 near Simi Valley. Donald was a veteran of the Korean War. He started with the Sheriff's Department in May 1949, and served the community of Thousand Oaks.
- Sheriff Edmund Guy McMartin (Died August 20, 1921)
Sheriff Edmund G. McMartin became a hero on August 20, 1921 when he and Oxnard Township Constable W.E. Kelley were killed in the line of duty while attempting to arrest a murder suspect. Among his many accomplishments, Sheriff McMartin was known for bringing the first automobile, a 1906 Urea, to law enforcement in Ventura County.
In popular culture
- George Anson Phillips, a character in Raymond Chandler's The High Window. Phillips was an inept former deputy turned private investigator, vaguely remembered by the protagonist Marlowe.
- In the 1974 film Chinatown, Roy Jenson plays Claude Mulvihill, a hired tough guy and former Ventura County Sheriff who had been on the take from rum runners during Prohibition.
- The 2005 film Hostage portrays the Ventura County Sheriff's Office's SWAT team taking over a hostage situation from the fictional Bristo Camino Police Department.
- The second season of HBO's True Detective sees Rachel McAdams portray Detective Ani Bezzerides, who works for the Ventura County Sheriff's CID.