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About Us

Published on: 1/24/2017 12:52 PM

Sheriff's Office helicopter (Star 1) landing at the Heroes Run 2016.

Sheriff's Office Overview
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. Laurie Smith is the twenty-eighth Sheriff of Santa Clara County.  Sheriff Smith has served as the Sheriff since January 1999.
The Sheriff's Office is divided into 4 major bureaus: Administrative Services, Enforcement, Custody, and Support Services. There are three Assistant Sheriffs and a Director of Administrative Services who oversee bureaus.
Currently, the Sheriff's Office has 1,728 employees.  Of those employees, 1,302 of them are sworn law enforcement officers. These positions are broken down as follows:
  • Sheriff
  • Undersheriff/Chief of Correction
  • 3 Assistant Sheriffs
  • 14 Captains 
  • 24 Lieutenants
  • 117 Sergeants
  • 1,142 Deputies 
    • 395 Enforcement Deputies
    • 747 Correctional Deputies
In addition to the full-time badge staff, the Sheriff's Office has 65 Reserve Deputy Sheriffs. To support the entire operation, the Department employs 426 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.

Custody Bureau Overview
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Custody Bureau is the fifth largest jail system in California, and among the 20 largest systems in the United States.  Our jail is among the 100 systems nationwide with an inmate population of more than 1,000.  In 2015, our County housed and cared for an average of 3,638 inmates a day.  We serve nearly five million meals each year while providing medical and mental health care for an inmate population that rarely has any contact with the health care system.  The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Custody Bureau books approximately 48,000 arrestees annually with an average length of stay of about 206 days.

2015 Populations Figures
  • Elmwood Correctional Complex - 1,884 male inmates
  • Elmwood Women's Facility - 454 female inmates
  • Main Jail Complex - 1,299 male inmates

Elmwood Correctional Complex in Milpitas provides care, housing, and rete​ntion of approximately 2,600 medium- and minimum-security male inmates.  The facility employs 265 correctional officers, and 25 administrative support personnel and hosts a large number of volunteers and programs staff.  The entire Elmwood complex has an operating budget of about $32 million a year.

The Elmwood buildings vary in shape and size, some designed for indirect su​pervision of inmates, others for direct supervision.  Many are military style barracks for minimum-security inmates. Although the Elmwood site only minimum and medium security male inmates, the women's facility at Elmwood houses all security levels. 

The Elmwood Complex Women's Facility, established in 1964, is located in the northeast portion of the Complex.  The facility houses approximately 500 female inmates separately from the men’s facility. The Women's Facility is staffed by 81 correctional officers, four sergeants, and seven Custody Support Assistants, and is a base of operations for a number of volunteers and programs​ staff.  The annual operating budget is about $7 million.

The Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex is loca​ted at 150 West Hedding Street in downtown San Jose and is divided into Main Jail North and Main Jail South.  The annual budget for the Main Jail Complex is approximately $37 million dollars. Each year, the Main Jail Complex receives and books about 65,000 persons.  Most of those booked are cited and released or post bail on their charges.  There are 350 badge and civilian staff assigned to the Main Jail Complex.

Main Jail South, opened in 1956, has a rated capacity of 674 inmates and is designed in the older linear style, complete with bars and tiers.  This indirect supervision model, although popular in the 1950s, is generally not the norm in modern jail settings because officer-inmate interaction is minimized.

 Main Jail North, a third generation correctional facility, uses the "direct supervision" inmate management model. Direct supervision is a concept that combines architectural design, specialized staff training, and an inmate management system based upon positive behavior.  In this environment, one officer oversees a locked "module" or dormitory with up to 64 inmates.  Each inmate has a cell with a toilet, sink, mirror, and bed.  Inmates eat and participate in programs in a common day room area equipped with tables, chairs, and telephones.  This scenario allows the officer to be the leader of the module and puts the officer in a position to know and understand the personality of each inmate.  Direct supervision units have proven to be safer for both staff and inmates. Main Jail North is designed to house up to 919 inmates.

If you want to join the ranks of our agency, please visit the Career Opportunities page.