With its roots embedded in Spanish California, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has always been a reflection of the community it serves. Founded in 1850, it stands with the oldest law enforcement agencies in the state.
From the days of Russell Heath, who battled infamous outlaws Solomon Pico and Jack Powers, to Bill Brown, there have been 22 men who have taken the oath of office for Sheriff.
The Department itself has seen dramatic changes over its 150-year history. From the days of the single Sheriff, aided only by a jailer and guard in charge of the chain gang, the Department has grown to over 600 sworn and non-sworn employees providing a wide variety of services to the public.
Eight Sheriff's Stations throughout the county now provide community-oriented services from Isla Vista in the south to the Cuyama Valley in the north. Deputies patrol on foot, from bicycles and radio-equipped squad cars, motorcycles, horses, boats and aircraft, in whatever manner the situation dictates.
Detectives employ the latest forensic techniques of crime investigation, while modern communications ensure the most rapid response to the emergency needs of citizen and officer alike.
Modern correctional facilities have replaced the old County Jails of the past. The Spanish Jailhouse of the 1850's, where escape was easily obtained by merely digging through the soft adobe walls, is a relic of history. After outgrowing the Jail section of the County Courthouse, Custody operations moved to its current facility in 1971, with additions in 1987 and 1992. The jail now provides up-to-date security and humane treatment for all persons remanded to the custody of the Sheriff.
The Sheriff's Office is proud of its record throughout the years, and is constantly striving to improve its public protection and community services for citizens of Santa Barbara County. The experiences of the past continue to serve as a reference to us in our efforts to meet the law enforcement needs of today, and plan for the challenges of tomorrow.