the Ventura County Sheriff's Department
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.
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 Services.
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.