About the Ventura County Sheriff's Department
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 1800s. Sheriff E.G. 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 (C.O.P.P.S), DARE and Neighborhood Watch. Today, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is organized into four large entities: Detention Services; Patrol Services; Special Services; and, Support
The Special Services includes specialized units
such as Air Unit, Major Crimes, Narcotics; Intelligence, Bomb Unit, SWAT, Forensic Sciences and Information Systems. The Patrol
Services is divided into four geographic commands, each led by a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Commander. Two of the Commanders serve as chiefs of police for cities that contract law enforcement
services from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
Captain Jim Barrett (ret.) is an expert in the world
of police horses. During his 30 year career in law enforcement he was a trainer,
supervisor and the manager of one of the most successful mounted units in Southern California. During his tenure with the
Ventura County Sheriff's Department Mounted Enforcement Unit he has seen the unit grow from three original riders, increasing
to 25 riders who work several hundred details each year.
Jim is one of the founding board members of the
California Mounted Officers Association (CMOA); a statewide organization dedicated to the betterment of the mounted officer. Jim Barrett is the author of three
books Steady Your Spooky Horse, A
Manual for the Mounted Police and Ma Duncan.
According to the book description of Steady Your Spooky Horse, “Here are the stimulus training methods
used by mounted police officers to teach their horses to face any situation. When this training is competently done, it works,
and that is proven every day of the week by the thousands of police horses successfully working the streets throughout the
According to the book description of A Manual for the Mounted Police, it covers: How to set standards for
your mounted unit; How to select a potential police horse; What Patterns of Consistency are in police horse training; Ways
of testing the police horse; and, The Intellectual fit of Dressage riding.
According to the book description of Ma Duncan, “Elizabeth Ann Duncan was a future daughter-in-law’s worst
nightmare. Filled with deep-rooted instability, jealousy and obsession toward her son Frank, an obsession that far surpassed
normal motherly love, Ms. Duncan, known to the world as "Ma Duncan," planned the murder of her pregnant daughter in law during
the 1950’s. Detailing this heinous crime, Jim Barrett delves into Elizabeth
Duncan’s turbulent past, reflecting on her numerous marriages, financial fraud, suicidal tendencies and above all, her
unnatural obsession toward her son and her hatred toward her daughter-in-law. As the story is revealed, Barrett creates a
work that is frighteningly captivating, emphasizing the fragility of the human mind and the extent to which one woman went
to fulfill her obsession.
Written with vivid details chronicling this infamous murder, "Ma Duncan" not
only uncovers gaps that have been left exposed in Elizabeth Duncan’s story, but incorporates interviews, pictures and
Barrett’s own expertise in criminal law enforcement to complete the whole story.”