Orange County Sheriff's Department (California)

Orange County Sheriff's Department (California)
Orange County Sheriff's Department
Abbreviation OCSD
Orange County, Ca Sheriff.jpg
Patch of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Agency overview
Formed March 11, 1889
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* County (US) of Orange in the state of California, USA
Map of California highlighting Orange County.svg
Map of Orange County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction.
Size 948 square miles (2,460 km2)
Population 3,010,759
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Santa Ana, California
Deputies 1460[1]
Civilians 1446[1]
Agency executive Sandra Hutchens, Sheriff
Jails 4
Helicopters 2
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) is the law enforcement agency serving Orange County, California. It currently serves the unincorporated areas of Orange County and twelve contract cities in the county: Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, and Villa Park.

The agency also provides law enforcement services to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) system, and John Wayne Airport. OCSD also runs Orange County's Harbor Patrol, which provides law enforcement, marine fire fighting, search and rescue, and underwater search and recovery services along the county's 42 miles (68 km) of coastline and in the county's three harbors (Dana Point, Newport and Huntington).

The department gained national prominence in 2002 during the massive manhunt and swift capture of 6 year old Samantha Runnion's murderer. Larry King described, then-Sheriff Mike Carona as "America's Sheriff".



The department is divided into twenty divisions covering five organizational functions: Public Protection; Jail Operations; Technical Services such as investigations, coroner services, and emergency management; and Administrative and Support Services.[2]

The Orange County Marshal's Department was absorbed by OCSD on July 1, 2000; then-Sheriff Michael Carona was the last Marshal. OCSD, under its Court Operations Division, now provides all security and law enforcement services (such as Bailiff services, weapons screening checkpoints and prisoner custody) to the county court system.

The Department currently has 1,460 sworn Deputies and Sheriff's Special Officers and over 1,446 civilian personnel, with another 800 reserve personnel.

Command Staff

Executive Command

Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens

Undersheriff John Scott

  • Community Services
  • OC Crime Lab
  • Public Affairs

Administrative Services Command

Executive Director Rick Dostal

  • Communications and Technology
  • Financial/Administrative Services
  • Research and Development
  • Support Services

Custody and Court Operations

Assistant Sheriff Mike James

Commander Steve Kea

  • Court Operations
  • Central Jail Complex
  • Musick Facility
  • Theo Lacy Facility
  • Inmate Services

Professional Services Command

Assistant Sheriff Tim Board

Commander Lee Trujullo

  • Coroner
  • Professional Standards
  • S.A.F.E.
  • Training

Field Operations and Investigations

Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings

Commander Don Barnes

  • Airport Operations
  • Homeland Security
  • Investigations
  • North Operations
  • South Operations
  • Stanton Police Services
  • San Clemente Police Services
  • OCTA Police Services

Ranks of the OCSD

There are many job classifications with a multitude of duties that serve the citizens and visitors of Orange County each and everyday. Sworn designates the personnel that are sworn as California Peace Officers. Certain tasks and duties require personnel involved to be sworn peace officers. Non-Sworn designates personnel that perform duties that do not require a sworn officer, but are equally important in carrying out the Sheriff's mission.

  • Sworn:

Sheriff-Coroner (1)

UnderSheriff (2)

Assistant Sheriff (3)

Commander (3)

Captain (12)



Investigator/Deputy Sheriff II

Deputy Sheriff I

Reserve Deputy Sheriff

Sheriff's Special Officer III

Sheriff's Special Officer II

Sheriff's Special Officer I

  • Non-Sworn:

Sheriff's Correctional Services Assistant

Sheriff's Community Services Officer

Sheriff's Correctional Services Technician

Sheriff's Crime Prevention Specialists

Sheriff's Professional Staff

Sheriff's Crime Scene Investigators

Sheriff's Cadets

  • Sheriff's Explorers:

Explorer Commander (1)

Explorer Captain (4)

Explorer Lieutenant

Explorer Sergeant

Explorer Corporal


Probationary Explorer

History of the Sheriff's Department

Early Years

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department came into existence on August 1, 1889, when a proclamation of the state legislature separated the southern portion of Los Angeles County and created Orange County. The entire department consisted of Sheriff Richard Harris and Deputy James Buckley, with an operating budget of $1,200 a year and a makeshift jail in the rented basement of a store in Santa Ana. They served a sparsely populated county of 13,000 residents, scattered throughout isolated townships and settlements. The problems faced by the first sheriff were typical for a frontier county – tracking down outlaws, controlling vagrancy, and attempting to maintain law and order across 782 square miles (2,030 km2) of farmland and undeveloped territory.

But the county was expanding, and the department grew with it. The Spurgeon Square Jail was opened by Sheriff Joe Nichols in 1897, and the Orange County Courthouse followed in 1901. Sheriff Theo Lacy (the second and fourth sheriff of Orange County, who served from 1890-1894 and 1899-1911) was able to move from borrowed office space in Santa Ana to a dedicated headquarters in the courthouse that remained in operation until 1924.

When he took office in 1911, Sheriff Charles Ruddock commanded a staff of eight full-time deputies and jailers, serving a county of nearly 34,000 citizens. But the county’s frontier past returned to haunt it on December 16, 1912, when Undersheriff Robert Squires became the first member of the department to be killed in the line of duty while part of a posse attempting to apprehend a violent fugitive.

The county’s growing population brought new challenges. Most of the county had outlawed liquor by the time Sheriff Calvin Jackson took office in 1915. Raids of “blind pig” businesses that served as fronts for illegal liquor sales were commonplace. When Congress passed the 18th Amendment in 1920, Prohibition became the law of the land. Suppressing illegal liquor operations became a major focus for the department over the next decade.

By the time Sheriff Sam Jernigan took office in 1923, rum runners and bootleggers were commonplace along the coastline and in Orange County’s harbors, using them as a base of operation for smuggling Canadian liquor into the country. Thanks to Jernigan’s diligence, many of them ended up serving time in the new county jail on Sycamore Street in Santa Ana, a building that would serve as OCSD’s main jail and headquarters for the next forty-four years. Jernigan remained in office until the end of the decade. By 1930, the department had grown to include eighteen full-time personnel with an operating budget of $49,582. The county’s population was approaching 119,000, over half of which was scattered across a mostly rural landscape.

Sheriff Logan Jackson assumed office in 1931, and for the next eight years guided the department through a turbulent decade. The Long Beach earthquake of 1933 caused widespread damage throughout the county, especially in Santa Ana. In 1938, a week of intense rain overflowed the Santa Ana River, causing a massive flood that caused over $30 million in damage. The sheriff also had to deal with the Citrus Riots of 1936, an agricultural labor dispute that led to a strike and subsequent disturbance so large that Sheriff Jackson swore in over four hundred special deputies to help control the violence. But Jackson’s term in office also saw advancements for the department, such as an expansion of the Sycamore Jail that included the county’s first radio dispatch center. One of his final acts as sheriff was to implement the wearing of uniforms and a standardized badge for all thirty of his deputies.

World War II and the Creation of the Reserve Bureau

Sheriff Jesse Elliott replaced Jackson in 1939, just as the Depression was ending and the county once again began to prosper. This peaceful time was cut short by the outbreak of World War II in 1941, which created challenges unlike any others in department history. Most of Orange County’s peace officers left for war, leaving the department critically understaffed. This was made worse by the fact that in addition to his normal responsibilities, the sheriff was now required to assist with mandatory civil defense measures such as air raid drills and blackouts, as well as help police the seven wartime military bases within the county borders. Elliott suddenly found himself responsible for twice as many duties with only a fraction of his former staff to carry them out. To meet this need, he formed the Sheriff’s Emergency Reserve, which eventually became the department’s current Reserve Bureau.

Post World War II

In 1946, former deputy James Musick came home from the war and successfully ran for the office of sheriff, assuming command in 1947. He would serve as sheriff for the next twenty-eight years – the longest term in department history. When he took office, the county was still mostly rural, with a population of 216,000 served by a department of only seventy-six. During Musick’s administration, a number of divisions and facilities were commissioned that remain active to this day. He implemented the county’s first crime lab, its first Peace Officer’s Training Center (now known as the Katella Facility), and the nation’s first law enforcement Explorer post. The 1960s saw the construction of the Orange County Industrial Farm (later renamed the James Musick Jail Facility), the Theo Lacy Facility, and the headquarters and central jails still in use today. In response to the civil unrest of the late 1960’s, Musick formed the Emergency Action Group Law Enforcement (EAGLE) team, a group of deputies with specialized training in various riot control and specialized tactics. Although the team disbanded several years later, certain platoons evolved into the modern-day SWAT, Hazardous Devices, and Mounted Patrol units. The department grew even larger when the Coroner’s Office merged with it in 1971. By the time Musick retired in 1974, the county had expanded to a rapidly urbanizing population of over 1,400,000, with the department having grown to a staff of over 900.

Musick’s handpicked successor was Brad Gates, who became sheriff in 1975. The department continued its rapid expansion during his administration, with the merging of two more agencies – the Orange County Harbor Patrol and the Stanton Police Department. In response to severe jail overcrowding, the Intake Release Center was opened in 1988, completing the modern-day Central Jails Complex. Gates also established the Air Support Bureau and created the Laser Village tactical training center, as well as the county’s first DNA laboratory. The continuing urbanization of the county resulted in several cities incorporating and becoming contract patrol areas. Gates also steered the department through the challenges of a severe county bankruptcy in 1994. By the time he retired in 1999, the department had grown to over 3000 members.

Sheriff Michael Carona's Rise and Fall

Sheriff Michael Carona took office in 1999, and soon oversaw the merger of the Orange County Marshal’s Department (his former agency) with OCSD. His term brought additional department expansion, including a modernized Katella Facility and a new OCSD Academy in Tustin. Patrol cars were equipped with mobile computers, and anti-terrorism units were formed in response to the events of September 11, 2001. Although he enjoyed an initial surge of popularity due to the department’s expert handling of such high-profile cases as the Samantha Runnion abduction and murder, Carona’s time in office did not end well. He and former members of his executive staff were indicted on multiple corruption charges in 2007, and he resigned and was convicted in 2008.

His replacement, retired L.A. Sheriff’s Commander Sandra Hutchens, was appointed by the county Board of Supervisors after a nationwide search for a suitable candidate.

OCSD Today

Sheriff Hutchens continued to expand the department after assuming office, reorganizing the entire agency and creating new branches such as the Homeland Security Division, a unified command for the various bureaus responsible for the county’s security. However, the sheriff was soon faced with the crisis of a nationwide recession that caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This caused massive cuts to the department’s budget, and made it necessary to streamline the entire agency. In spite of these problems, Hutchens has continued to implement new programs and procedures to not only cope with the financial crisis, but to ensure that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is prepared to meet whatever challenges the future may bring.

Beds for Feds

In 2010 OCSD and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reached an agreement that would allow federal detainees to be placed Orange County Jail facilities. Several deputies have been cross trained as ICE Special Agents along with being an OC Deputy Sheriff.

Orange County Sheriff's Department Explorer Post 449

In November of 1959, Orange County Sheriff James A. Musick wanted "young men," who desired exposure in the field of law enforcement to be afforded the opportunity to do so. In a newspaper article he stated, "We organized the group after we found that other special interest Explorer Posts were taking our best young men from our high schools. We decided, rather than take what was left over after other fields of endeavor took the best, that we should start training young men of high school age now for a career in law enforcement."

Thus, the first Law Enforcement Exploring Post in the nation was established. Its purposes were, "To train young men of today for the future that awaits them in the law enforcement field of tomorrow. To stimulate young men's interest in law enforcement practices, the code of ethics, and the fine qualities of citizenship which are expected, to briefly explore all phases of law enforcement and to be a definite approach to juvenile decency." Post 449 began with twenty-eight explorers in Santa Ana who had to meet the qualifications of being "between 14 and 21, must maintain a "B" average in school, have a clean record, be of outstanding citizenship in their community and have a general reputation beyond reproach."

In 1973, after fifteen years of only young men being allowed in the Exploring program, Boy Scouts of America allowed young women to explore careers in law enforcement through membership in a Explorer Program. Maintaining the same high standards for qualification and training these young women diversified the Department's Post.

When the residents of contract cities and the unincorporated county area need help they call the Sheriff's Department; when the Sheriff's Department needs help they call on their Explorers. The Orange County Sheriff's Explorer Post supports deputies during road closures caused by natural disasters such as mudslides, floods and forest fires. They complete search missions where either missing persons or evidence is sought, and are deployed to protect us protect crime scene perimeters. This involvement, by the explorers, allows Deputies to be available for calls for service.

Explorers are also used to assist in public education. They distribute brochures explaining changes in parking regulations or temporary street closures. During Bicycle Rodeo Events, Explorers demonstrate to children how to properly size and wear bicycle helmets. They offer child identification and crime awareness, through a "Kid-Print" program and assist in crime prevention demonstrations throughout the county.

The Department's Explorers serve the community by providing crowd and traffic control during Basic Academy Graduations, County Building Dedications, Mall grand openings, Community awareness fairs, 10 K runs, parades and a multitude of other charitable events. The Post's Color guard is used to present the flag at City Council and County Board of Supervisor meetings, as well as scouting and civic events.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department Explorers participate in Law Enforcement competitions throughout the state. Through the use of the Department's "Laser Village" and its Training Staff, Post 449 Explorers have learned skills which enabled them to win several awards in Felony Car Stop, D.U.I., Bomb Threat and Search and Building Search scenarios. The Explorers also compete in Tug-of War, Volleyball and Obstacle Course competitions.

Sheriff's personnel, who volunteer as Advisors for the Department's Post, contribute countless hours exposing youths to Law Enforcement Careers. Their commitment to the advancement of the Exploring program goes beyond the Department's Post. The Department's Advisors also serve on the County-wide Organization as Ranking Officials, Academy Directors, Tactical Training Officers and Instructors at the Explorer Academy. In addition to Orange County, these Advisors have trained and taught Explorers from Kern, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and Ventura counties.

Facilities and equipment

Field & Investigative Services Command

North Operations: Includes patrol and investigative services for the northern boundaries of Orange County, this division is based out of Sheriff's Headquarters in Santa Ana, California. The current head of North Operations is Captain Tom Gallivan.

  • Silverado Canyon, California
  • Unincorporated North Orange County
  • Emerald Bay, California

Stanton Police Services: Includes patrol and investigative services for the city of Stanton, California after the Stanton Police Department was absorbed by OCSD. The current head of Stanton Police Services is Lieutenant Jeff Passalaqua.

South Operations: Includes patrol and investigative services for the southern boundaries of Orange County, this division is based out of the Sheriff's sub-station in Aliso Viejo, California. The current head of South Operations is Captain Linda Solorza.

  • Wagon Wheel, California
  • Ortega Highway

San Clemente Police Services: Includes patrol and investigations for the city of San Clemente, California. In 1992 San Clemente Police Department was absorbed into OCSD, however San Clemente only allows the former San Clemente Police Station to be used by deputies who patrol their city. The current head of San Clemente Police Services is Lieutenant Paul D'Auria.

Orange County Harbor Patrol: Includes maritime security and enforcement of laws in Orange County's Harbors. The current head of Harbor Patrol is Lieutenant Mark Long.

  • Sunset Harbor, California
  • Dana Point Harbor, California

John Wayne Airport Police Services: OCSD provides responsive and professional service to John Wayne Airport. They pro-actively protect lives and property at this facility and respond to all calls for service promptly. In addition to these services they remain vigilant against threats (foreign or domestic) to ensure the security and safe operation of this facility. All Airport Police Services employees are expected to represent the department and John Wayne Airport in a friendly, helpful, and professional manner. The current head of John Wayne Airport Police Services is Captain Dennis DeMaio

OC Transit Police Services: The mission of the OCTA Transit Police Services is to maintain a safe and peaceful environment for OCTA customers and employees, and to ensure the security of OCTA property. The current head of OCTA Police Serives is Lieutenant Jaems Rudy.

  • Orange County Transit Authority

Katella Training Facility

Located on Katella Avenue in Orange, California the training facility is the training center for all members of the OCSD SWAT Team and the OCSD CIRT Team.


Santa Ana Police Department & Jail Complex in Santa Ana, CA

The OCSD Custody Operations Division operates four jails[3]:

  • Central Men's Jail and Women's Jail - The Central Jail Complex, opened in 1968, is located next to the department offices in Santa Ana. It houses approximately 2,664 inmates.
  • Intake Release Center ("IRC") - In 1988 as a part of the Central Jail Complex, the Intake Release Center was built to facilitate the intake and processing of inmates, and the including medical screening, booking, properidentification, and transfers between facilities. While it is a transitional facility, it also holds male and female inmates for brief periods.
  • Theo Lacy Facility - The TLF, located in the city of Orange, was originally built in 1960. A major expansion completed in 2006 brought its capacity to 3,100 inmates, making it the largest jail in the county.
  • James A. Musick Facility - A minimum security facility located on unincorporated county land near Lake Forest and Irvine, “The Farm” provides custodial and rehabilitative programs for 1256 adult male and female inmates.


After the Orange County Marshal's Department was absorbed by OCSD, the sheriff's department became responsible for providing court services. There are Sheriff's personnel stationed at the Justice Centers throughout the County. Sheriff's staff at the Justice Centers fulfill the vital mission of the Sheriff that include bailiff services in each courtroom, weapons screening operations in the lobby of each Justice Center, and detention services, supervising the inmates who have appearances each day at the facility. These personnel fall under the Court Operations Command of the OCSD. The current head of court operations is Captain Mike Hiller. Orange County Sheriff's Offices are located at the following Superior Court of California facilities in the County of Orange:

  • Central Justice Center (CJC) in Santa Ana
  • Lamoreaux Family Law Justice Center (LJC) in Orange
  • North Justice Center (NJC) in Fullerton
  • West Justice Center (WJC) in Westminster
  • Harbor Justice Centers (HJC) in Newport Beach and the HJC-Annex located in Laguna Hills.

Orange County Sheriff's Academy

The Orange County Sheriff's Academy is located in Tustin, California on the site of the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. The facility opened in late 2007 and replaced the old academy on Salinas Avenue in Garden Grove which was no longer adequate due to overcrowding. [1] The Orange County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy produces highly trained and professional Police Officers, Deputy Sheriffs, Sheriff's Special Officers, and Correctional Services Assistants. Some training is also conducted at a Sheriff's facility on Katella Avenue in Orange, California.

There are 83 instructors on the academy and 46 percent are from OCSD, 39 percent from other agencies, and 15 percent are from non-law enforcement. The OCSD academy program is 26 weeks long and includes training on community policing, arrest control techniques, firearms, and scenario training. The OCSD academy places an emphasis on physical training and the ability to make decisions when placed in stressful situations.

Some law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County utilize the OCSD Academy for training, including the Santa Monica Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department.


The department's helicopters (both Eurocopter AS350 B2 [or "A*Stars"]) uses the radio call sign "Duke" (after actor and Newport Beach resident John Wayne) and, appropriately, uses John Wayne Airport as its operational base. The original "Duke" helicopters (a pair of Boeing 500s) had an image of John Wayne riding atop a sheriff's badge (while waving his cowboy hat) painted on the fuselage.


  • Richard T. Harris (1889–1891)
  • Theo Lacy (1891–1895)
  • Joe C. Nichols (1895–1899)
  • Theo Lacy (1899–1911)
  • Charles Ruddock (1911–1915)
  • Calvin E. Jackson (1915–1923)
  • Sam Jernigan (1923–1931)
  • Logan Jackson (1931–1939)
  • Jesse L. Elliott (1939–1947)
  • James Musick (1947–1975)
  • Brad Gates (1975–1999)
  • Michael Carona (1999–2008)
  • Jack Anderson (Assistant Sheriff Acting as Sheriff) (January 2008-June 2008)
  • Sandra Hutchens (2008–present)

See also

Portal icon Los Angeles portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


  1. ^ a b OCSD Department Info page
  2. ^ "OCSD: Administration". 
  3. ^ "OCSD: Custody Operations". 

External links

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