The Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Laurie Smith

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office was founded in 1850, making it one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the State of California. There have been twenty-eight persons serving in the capacity of Sheriff since 1850. The Sheriff holds an elected office, which is voted on by the citizens of the County every four years. Laurie Smith is the twenty-eighth Sheriff of Santa Clara County. Sheriff Smith has served as the Sheriff since December 1998.

The authority and mandates for the Sheriff to provide law enforcement services can be found in several state and local codes. For instance, Government Code Sections 26600–26602 require the Sheriff to preserve the peace, to make arrests, to prevent unlawful disturbances which come to her attention and to investigate public offenses which have been committed. Also, the Santa Clara County Charter (Section 605) requires the Sheriff to provide the County efficient and effective police protection and to perform all the duties required of her by law.

The Sheriff oversees the entire agency. What once was a one-man office has, since 1850, grown into a multi-million dollar operation. To oversee this multi-million dollar agency, the Sheriff has a top management team consisting of an Undersheriff, three Assistant Sheriffs, and an Administrative Services Director.

The Sheriff's Office is divided into 4 major bureaus: Administrative Services, Enforcement, Custody, and Support Services.

Currently, the Sheriff's Office has 2,025 employees. Of those employees, 1,453 of them are sworn law enforcement officers. The 4 major bureaus encompass the following positions:

  • Sheriff
  • Undersheriff
  • 3 Assistant Sheriffs
  • Administrative Services Director
  • 15 Captains
  • 28 Lieutenants
  • 132 Sergeants
  • 1,273 De​puties

In addition to the full-time badge staff, the Sheriff's Office has numerous Reserve Deputy Sheriffs. To support the entire operation, the Department employs 572 non-sworn, civilian staff.

There are several specialized units and teams within the Sheriff's Office. These include Canine Unit, Search & Rescue, Dive Team, Traffic/Motorcycles, Off-Road Enforcement Team, Hostage Negotiation Team, SERT (Sheriff's Emergency Response Team), Crowd Control Unit, SORE (Sheriff's Off-Road Enforcement Team), Narcotics Task Force, ERT (Emergency Response Teams), Jail Intelligence Unit, SAFE (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) Task Force, REACT (Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team) Task Force, CASU (Custodial Alternative Supervision Unit), Parks Boat Patrol, Intelligence/Vice Unit, and Bomb Squad.

Organizational Chart

If you want to join the ranks of our department, see Career Opportunities.

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