The Sheriff’s Office Investigation Bureau is where most felony crimes and other intricate matters are investigated. When a patrol deputy takes a major incident report in the field, it is routed to the Investigation Bureau for follow-up. Depending on the type of incident, the report will be routed to one of the following units: Property Crimes Unit, Violent Crimes Unit, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit, Narcotics Task Force, Crime Scene Investigations Unit, Coroner’s Unit, or the Criminal Intelligence Unit.
Detective sergeants, who report to the Investigation Bureau lieutenant, supervise the individual units. The Investigation Bureau has thirty-four detectives assigned to the various units, plus a number of clerical staff and other assistants. The combined budget for the Investigation Bureau is roughly 12 million dollars.
Detectives are selected from the deputy ranks of the Sheriff’s Office through a competitive process. Successful candidates must have a record of high performance in the patrol division and show an aptitude for detailed investigations, plus be skilled in interviewing/interrogations, report writing, and working as a member of a team. An assignment to the detective bureau reflects a high regard for a deputy’s skills and abilities. Detective assignments may go well beyond the usual three-year-mark if the detective continues to prove that he or she is the most skilled and effective individual for that position.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/ SEXUAL ASSAULT UNIT
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office created the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit on October 1, 1996. Prior to that date domestic violence, the Violent Crimes Investigation Unit investigated sexual assault and child abuse cases. As the community was growing and VCI was experiencing an overwhelming statistical case load the new unit was formed.
The DVSA Unit was moved off site in keeping with a community-oriented philosophy. The Sheriff’s Office went into partnership with the YWCA and the District Attorney’s Office in order to create an innovative service in which three organizations are in partnership to provide service to the community in one location. The goals of the unit are being met by a three-pronged approach, which include prevention through education, suppression through enforcement and diversion through advocacy and counseling.
The DVSA Unit consists of a Detective Sergeant, six Deputy Detectives, two Support Staff, a YWCA Counselor and two YWCA Advocates. In addition, a Deputy District Attorney and Investigator handle statutory rape cases.
From the beginning, the unit has grown and is now considered a model program in the state of California, as well as across the United States.
It is the mission of the Coroner Unit to provide competent and timely law enforcement and scientific investigations of all deaths occurring within the County of Sonoma that meet criteria as defined in 27491 of the California Government Code and to provide timely and accurate answers to survivors with regard to the deaths of their loved ones.
The Coroner Unit is a component of Sheriff’s Investigations. The Coroner facility is located at 3336 Chanate Road in Santa Rosa, California and consists of one Detective Sergeant, four Deputy Detectives, one Community Services Officer, one Secretary and two Forensic Assistants staff. Additionally, five student interns and one member of the Sheriff’s Volunteers in Policing unit serve the unit.
Sonoma County Coroner
Forensic Assistant: Esmeralda Mercado Shields
Forensic Assistant: Cecilia Garcia
Dr. Kelly Arthur
The Detective Sergeant oversees day-to-day supervision of the unit and responds in a supervisory capacity to homicide and other high profile death scenes or any scene that is considered unusual or suspicious. Other duties of the sergeant include liaison with Forensic Pathologists, attendance and participation in the Sonoma County Child Death Review Team, the Sonoma County Domestic Violence Death Review Team and the California State Coroner’s Association. The sergeant reviews and approves death investigations generated by the staff within the unit and is responsible for signing final death certificates generated from coroner investigations.
The Detectives assigned to the unit receive and investigate new reports of deaths. The screen the new reports to determine if the death falls within the criteria of 27491 of the California Government Code for deaths reportable to the coroner. Detectives respond to the scenes of death scenes in which the manner of death is being investigated as either homicide, suicide, accident, and in a significant number of natural causes deaths. It is the duty of the coroner pursuant to 27491 of the California Government Code to investigate these types of deaths.
The Community Services Officer assigned to the unit assists Detectives in performing routine follow up, locating and retrieving medical records, medical samples and x-ray images as needed. Additionally the person assigned to this position receives new reports of death from hospitals and mortuaries in Sonoma County and screens these deaths for acceptance for further investigation by the Coroner Unit.
Pathology services are furnished by Forensic Medical Group Incorporated. Their corporate office is located in Fairfield California. Forensic Medical Group has five Forensic Pathologists available to the Coroner Unit. Forensic Medical Group provides services to several nearby counties some of whom include Marin, Lake, Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo and Sacramento.
As Sonoma County averages nearly 500 autopsies annually there is one Forensic Pathologist assigned full time to serve the needs of Sonoma County.
Forensic Odontology is best described as post-mortem dental examination and comparison. The Coroner Unit’s Forensic Odontology services are provided on an as needed basis by Dr. James Wood DDS. His services typically would be called in for use in identifying burn victims or unidentified human remains. Dr. Wood also specializes in bite mark comparisons from all sources. Dr. Wood was also called into service to travel to New York following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Other Vendor Services:
In addition to contracting for pathology services with Forensic Medical Group, the County of Sonoma contracts with several other vendors to provide needed services to serve the Coroner Unit. Some of these vendors provide services for in house x-rays for homicide victims, laboratory services for toxicology, laboratory services for micro-biology, bio-hazard waste disposal, pharmaceutical waste disposal, and body removals.
Other Services provided by the Coroner Unit:
The Coroner Unit of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office provides various services to allied agencies. Homicide and suspicious death autopsies for Lake, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties are conducted on a fee basis at the Sonoma County Coroner’s facility. They are scheduled so as not to interrupt the level of service to the citizens of Sonoma County. Staff at the Coroner Unit performs death notifications throughout the county when requested by outside agencies. On occasion in the past these notifications have taken on an international theme as some requests have been received from various embassies or the State Department for deaths of United States citizens or persons who have relatives in the United States that have occurred outside the United States boundaries.
The Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit is one unit within the Investigations Bureau. The primary mission of the Sonoma County Narcotics Unit is to provide quality narcotic/drug enforcement within Sonoma County. The Narcotics Unit is dedicated to complementing local law enforcement agencies in effectively identifying, arresting, and prosecuting narcotic/drug traffickers in order to make the community safe. Detectives conduct investigations involving violations of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana laws.
The Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit is comprised of (5) Detectives, (1) Detective Sergeant. The unit is also complimented with (2) narcotic detection canines. Two of the detectives work full time under a Marijuana Suppression Program grant, which is also supported by the Domestic Cannabis Suppression/Eradication Program grant.
Two detectives currently work under the Anti-Drug Abuse grant, which the unit has been involved in for over (15) years. This grant purchased the unit’s first narcotic detection canine back in 1995.
Detectives are certified experts in the area of narcotic investigations, clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, court recognized experts, canine handler expertise, and medical marijuana laws. Detectives work with the Drug Enforcement Administration involving investigations where federal laws would be used to prosecute violators.
Illegal narcotic/drug activity can be reported to the unit. Please telephone (707) 565-2185.
PROPERTY CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
The Property Crime Investigations Unit is responsible for the investigation of property related crimes that generally fall under Title 13 of the California Penal Code, Crimes Against Property. The Unit investigates felony crimes including, but not limited to: Burglary, Fraud, Forgery, Grand Theft, Credit Card Theft, Embezzlement, Extortion, Identity Theft, Elder Abuse, Arson, Financial Crimes, Agriculture Crimes, and Vandalism.
VIOLENT CRIMES INVESTIGATION UNIT
The Violent Crimes Investigations (VCI) unit consists of five detectives who investigate felony crimes against persons. The most common cases are homicide, robbery, kidnapping, and assault with deadly weapons. The unit also investigates officer-involved shootings involving other local law enforcement agencies via a Countywide protocol. All of the detectives in this unit receive specialized training in homicide investigation, interview and interrogation and officer involved critical incidents. There is also a civilian intern who works on missing persons cases. A detective sergeant supervises the unit.
The VCI unit is based at the Sheriff’s Office in Santa Rosa and investigates crimes in the unincorporated area of the County and the Town of Windsor. In 2003, the VCI unit investigated approximately 815 cases.
CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATIONS
Since the early 1960’s, the Sheriff’s Office realized a need for specialized investigators who had the training and aptitude for the detailed forensic aspects of investigation. The duties of the investigators at that time were primarily centered on locating, developing, comparison and the identification of fingerprints found at scenes and the identification of deceased individuals by fingerprints. The investigators were also responsible for photography at major crime scenes. Due to the detail-oriented skills they possessed, they also became the technical experts for the collection of trace evidence and scene documentation as well.
Over time technological advances have been made and as a result the role of these investigators has grown. The Crime Scene Investigation Unit Detectives are now trained on advanced techniques for latent fingerprint development and other forensic aspects of scene investigation. The Unit also performs additional skills such as bloodstain analysis, serial number restoration, indented writing development, electrostatic dust print lifting, digital image enhancement and examinations for trace evidence utilizing state-of- the-art forensic laser techniques.
In 1996, the Unit was assigned the collateral duty of Environmental Crimes Investigation. This decision was based on the Unit’s pre-existing knowledge and experience of working with and around hazardous chemicals within the Unit’s laboratory.
The Patrol Bureau is responsible for providing law enforcement and crime prevention services to the residents of the unincorporated area of Sonoma County. There are approximately 140 deputies assigned to our Patrol Bureau and patrol the larger portion of 1,604 square miles of land and the 63 miles of the Pacific shoreline that make up the County of Sonoma. Approximately 500,000 people live in Sonoma County with nearly a third residing in the unincorporated cities.
Deputy Sheriffs work an assigned shift, patrolling an assigned area performing law enforcement and crime prevention work. This includes serving criminal and civil warrants, making arrests, issuing citations and conducting preliminary criminal investigations. Other duties include the serving of civil process, performing transportation for the Detention Division, assisting the Investigation and the Court Security Bureaus.
Most deputies assigned to the Patrol Bureau operate out of the main office located in Santa Rosa. The remaining deputies are assigned to one of the four sub-stations that are located in Guerneville, Sonoma, Larkfield and Roseland. In addition three “resident deputies” are assigned along the Pacific Coastline. Two deputies are assigned to the Helicopter Unit and five deputies in the Marine Unit.
We are proud of our Patrol Bureau and the high standard of professional service it provides to the residents of Sonoma County. The Sheriff’s Office has divided the County into eight law enforcement zones:
Zone 1: River Zone 446.08 square miles. This zone is staffed from the Guerneville substation and covers the Sonoma Coast and unincorporated areas surrounding Guerneville. In addition to the deputies from the Guerneville substation, there are three resident deputies who patrol the coastal areas.
Zone 2: North Zone 534.63 square miles. This zone is staffed from the main office and includes the unincorporated areas surrounding Healdsburg, Cloverdale, and Windsor.
Zone 3: Local Zone 104 square miles. This zone is staffed from the main office and includes the unincorporated areas surrounding the city of Santa Rosa.
Zone 4: West Zone 65.05 square miles. This zone includes the unincorporated areas surrounding Sebastopol. This area is staffed from the main office.
Zone 5: South Zone 187.63 square miles. This zone is staffed from the main office and includes the unincorporated areas surrounding Petaluma, Rohnert Park, and Cotati.
Zone 6: Valley Zone 163.13 square miles. This zone is staffed from the Sonoma Valley substation.
Zone 7: R-COP 13 square miles. This zone is staffed out of the R-COP substation and covers portions of the unincorporated districts of Roseland, Bellevue, and Wright.
The helicopter is based at the Charles Schultz (Sonoma County Airport) in Santa Rosa and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is typically staffed and on-duty 10 hours a day but crew members carry a pager the remaining 14 hours and will respond for emergency call-outs.
The helicopter unit responds to an average of 900 missions annually and performs more rescues than any other program in the country. Because of its nationally recognized rescue skills, Henry-1 is occasionally requested for rescues and other emergencies outside of the county where no helicopter program with matching capabilities exists.
Sgt. Ed Wilkinson, who in the 1960’s, occasionally used to fly his own helicopter on patrol, pioneered the sheriff’s helicopter program. His helicopter was destroyed in a 1964 accident near Jenner. He later flew a county-owned Bell 47 helicopter beginning in 1972 dubbed, “Angel-1” and performed many life-saving missions. Angel-1 crashed in 1977 while returning to the airport after searching for a lost child, killing Sgt. Wilkinson.
Following the death of Sgt. Wilkinson, thousands of county residents signed petitions demanding that the sheriff’s helicopter program continue. In October of 1977 the Board of Supervisors showed their continued support for the program by authorizing the purchase of a Hughes 500C helicopter which was to be piloted by sheriff’s deputies. The duties of this new helicopter, “Angel-2”, were expanded to include medical transports. Unfortunately, a crash in October of 1980, killed both deputy sheriff’s aboard, Brent Jameson and Bliss Magley, as they were returning to the airport following a late night call-out for an officer involved shooting.
In 1981 the county purchased a factory new McDonald Douglas 500D helicopter which was put into service as, “Henry-1”, the name still used today. “Henry” stands for the letter, “H” in the police phonetic alphabet. This helicopter was troubled with numerous mechanical problems including five emergency landings due to engine failure. The final emergency landing in the summer of 1982 left the helicopter severely damaged on tidal rocks North of Jenner.
A radical change in operation occurred in 1983 when the county elected to lease a helicopter and a commercial pilot from a private vendor. The vendor supplied a Bell 206 (Jet Ranger) and a civilian pilot while the Sheriff provided a deputy to act as the flight crew, law enforcement officer and emergency medical technician on board. A local civilian paramedic was eventually added to make a flight crew of three, which became the standard of present day. The program was now able to accomplish law enforcement, medical, search and rescue missions.
This model of using vendors continued until 2008. During the contract years the department used Jet Rangers, Long Rangers, and eventually a Bell 407. Although the flight crews were able to perform amazing work, the program was plagued with issues that came up between the vendors and the County. In recent years, the helicopter spent many days out of service due to these issues.
After “renting” for 25 years, the county purchased a 1996 Bell 407 in 2008. This helicopter had been previously owned by the Los Angeles Police Department. The positions of Sheriff Pilot and Sheriff Paramedic were also created in 2008 to provide a method of retaining qualified people who in years past would leave for jobs with security and benefits. The department also secured a contract with a Bell Helicopter Customer Service Facility to perform all maintenance.
The helicopter flight crew consists of a sworn deputy sheriff, called the “Tactical Flight Officer” or “TFO”, a non-sworn paramedic and a non-sworn pilot who must hold at least a commercial pilot’s certificate prior to applying. A sheriff’s sergeant supervises the unit and also acts as a TFO during flight.
A full-time deputy, supplemented by a small pool of part-time deputies act as the TFO on all flights. The TFO is responsible for overseeing and accomplishing the assigned requirements of each particular flight and is the authority in all matters concerning law enforcement and mission related decisions. The TFO is trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a rescue technician.
A full time paramedic or one of a small pool of part-time local paramedics who are well known for their skills as experienced paramedics in local fire departments and ambulance companies is on each flight. They are highly trained in advanced life saving skills and are responsible for accomplishing the emergency medical service requirements of the mission. The paramedic is the authority in matters concerning patient treatment, stabilization and evacuation. He/She is also a skilled rescue technician.
The pilot is responsible for the operation of the helicopter and is the final authority in matters concerning flight safety and control of the aircraft. Two highly skilled pilots share the work load through the week. They have logged thousands of hours and are seasoned at performing the unique style of “long-line” rescue utilized by our department. To meet the program’s minimum qualifications, a pilot must have previously logged 3000 total hours; including, mountain, night flight experience and precision vertical reference “long-line” experience. They must also posses the ability to fly under stressful law enforcement and rescue missions.
The Bell 407 is a highly maneuverable, four bladed, single turbine engine powered helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter, Fort Worth, Texas. The Bell 407 can be flown with a single pilot and configured for up to five passengers or – in the EMS role – three crew members and a patient.
Henry 1 is equipped with:
Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR)
External Oxygen tank for medical missions
Dual hook system for long line rescue operations
Night Vision system (NVG)
The helicopter is utilized as an aerial law enforcement platform for assisting ground patrol units with on-view or in-progress crimes including pursuits, searches and surveillance. It is also used as an aerial platform for crime scene photography, and as an airborne observation and command center for major incidents. It can be deployed to expeditiously transport deputies to remote and/or inaccessible locations. On occasion it may be the first or only responding unit to a call in a rural area and the law enforcement crew member on board may be off-loaded to take action as needed.
The on-board paramedic assisted by the EMT-trained TFO enables the helicopter to rapidly transport patients to local hospitals as well as trauma or burn centers. Medical studies show that rapid transport to a hospital greatly increases the chance of survival for the critically ill or injured. The flight crew understands this philosophy and decisions are made rapidly to make sure the patient gets the appropriate treatment. Because of the configuration of the helicopter and the pilot/crew training and local knowledge, Henry-1 is able to locate emergency scenes and land in difficult terrain and conditions.
The helicopter has proven itself time and time again as a very efficient tool for extricating people who may be stranded in locations where they cannot safely escape and conventional rescue may be difficult, delayed or involve a greater risk. Henry-1 regularly rescues people from cliff faces, ravines, swift water and ocean surf regions using a long-line method.
We have learned over the years that victims make poor candidates for “self-rescue”, meaning simply lowering a line to a victim or allowing them to “hold on” to the helicopter or rescue device is not sufficient. All victims rescued by Henry-1 are rescued by a crew member who is deployed into the environment with the victim by various means. This is why crew members continually train in the ocean, rivers, and lakes, on the cliffs and in the back country. They must be comfortable in these arenas.
The most common rescue involves the use of a rescue strop, or “horse collar”. A crew member is flown on the end of a 100-foot line to the victim. The crew member secures the victim in the strop and holds onto him as the victim and rescuer are flown to safety. This method has worked effectively both in the water and on land. Other options exist for evacuation including the use of spinal immobilization devices.
The helicopter is a useful tool for rapidly surveying large areas for lost individuals or fleeing suspects. A forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR) may also be utilized to locate individuals who may not be readily visible due to darkness or terrain.
The helicopter is capable of carrying a 150-gallon “Bambi Bucket” suspended below the aircraft. This bucket is dipped into a lake, pond, river, or other water source and the water is carried and released over the fire. Henry-1 has been the first aircraft on-scene to fires and has assumed a role of protecting structures until more resources arrive.
CANINE UNIT (K-9)
The canine(s), after having been properly trained and certified, are used for the following purposes: master protection; searching for fleeing suspects; apprehension of fleeing suspect; crowd control; and public relations demonstrations for local schools and community organizations.
Each patrol dog and handler K-9 team participates in extensive training with trainer Frank Romano. During their training period, the handler and dog are required to attend a 5 week training course at Golden Gate K9 in Santa Rosa, California. The teams begin with obedience, and over the 5 week course they advance to open area searches, building searches, man tracking, and evidence searching. The K9 teams are then certified by “POST” and approved for patrol work.
Upon successful completion of the Basic K9 Handler Course, the teams receive a minimum of (16) hours of rigorous training per month. The training is to ensure the efficiency of each dog and handler in all phases of their assignments.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit was started in February 1970. The department began using Doberman Pinschers trained by Art O’Keefe of the San Francisco Police Department. In 1974, the department hired Dennis Jamarck. During this transition the department retired the Doberman Pinschers and began using German Shepherds. In the late 1980’s, Rottweilers were also used for patrol.
In 2013, Frank Romano, owner of Golden Gate K9, became the full time trainer for the department. The department currently uses Belgium Malinois, and German Shepherds.
Main Office, Santa Rosa: The dogs live at home with the deputies and are subject to K9 call-outs after hours. There are currently (9) patrol K9 units. Patrol K9 units work the night shift out of the Main Office in Santa Rosa. A patrol K9 is assigned to the Windsor Police Department and Sonoma Police Department.
Sonoma Coast: There are (3) patrol K9 units assigned to resident deputies working along the rugged Sonoma Coast. These resident deputies cover sixty miles of remote coastline along the Sonoma Coast and are required to live on the coast. These deputies are subject to call-out 24 hours a day and at times rely on their K9 as their only back-up.
Narcotic Detection Canines
Prior to being put into service, the canines and their handlers used for narcotic detection are trained for (5) weeks by Golden Gate K9. The dogs are trained to locate marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. Upon their successful completion of the (200) hour Basic Narcotics Detection K9 Handler Course, canines receive a minimum of (16) hours of monthly training/certification. The narcotic teams are certified by the California Narcotic Canine Association.
Each K9 team is assigned his own modified patrol car is modified to accommodate the dogs. The vehicle’s have cage units to contain the dog, and transport prisoners. The vehicle’s have electric door openers so that the deputy can open the door via a remote control. The vehicle’s are equipped with a climate control system which automatically activates to keep the air conditioning unit running while the handler is away from the vehicle.
The handlers are equipped with leashes, collars, harness’, muzzles, a bite sleeve, and other related equipment needed to care for the dogs. The department provides full bite suits, and additional bite sleeves for training. The department also provides additional safety equipment for volunteers who come out to assist the K9 unit.
Questions or Comments for the Canine Unit
SPECIAL OPERATIONS UNIT
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is committed to maintaining a cadre of highly trained, disciplined, and motivated deputies, who are specifically equipped and available to respond to critical and/or high-risk incidents, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, a component of the Special Operations Unit (SOU), consists of 20 members; including a Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants, 3 Team Leaders, and 14 Operators. Team members are given primary assignments based upon their skill level, experience, and ability. Within the team, operators can be assigned to entry, containment, chemical agent delivery, and sniper positions.
The SWAT team is equipped and trained in the use of a variety of methods for diffusing the most dangerous situations facing law enforcement. Using disciplined teamwork, specialized weapons, and tactical skills, the SWAT team works with other components of the Special Operations Unit to bring a peaceful resolution to critical incidents, such as:
Arrest of armed and dangerous subjects
High-risk building or open field searches
High-risk warrant service
Any other situation that challenges or exceeds the weaponry or training level of patrol deputies
In order to maintain the proficiency and skill level required, the SWAT team trains twice a month; one day on tactical movement and one day on firearms proficiency. Operators assigned to the Sniper Team train one additional day per month.
The SWAT team utilizes a variety of tools and weapons to accomplish the mission, including specialized weapons, ballistic shields, breaching tools, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and less lethal projectiles. Recently, we acquired a Light Armored Vehicle to further enhance our ability to operate in a high-risk environment.
In order to be eligible for the team, operators must have 3 years of law enforcement experience, exhibit firearms proficiency, and pass a rigorous physical test and oral interview. Operators are expected to be leaders and role models throughout the department and are tested continually to ensure they are maintaining the proper physical fitness and firearms proficiency required.
Hostage Negotiation Team
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Dept Hostage Negotiating Team is comprised of 9 sworn Sheriff’s Dept Personnel, 1 D.A. Investigator, and 1 Mental Health Expert. The team is deployed as part of the Sheriff’s Dept Special Operations Unit during major crisis situations involving suicidal subjects, barricaded subjects, and hostage takers. Their roll is to attempt to build a rapport with the involved person(s) and bring the situation to a peaceful resolution to an incident.
The Technical Team is part of the Special Operations Unit. The Technical Team is responsible for setting up the Command Center, maintaining computer systems, communications, surveillance, and also telephone insertion. The Team also coordinates with the local utilities company if required.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Breaching Team is an integral part of the Bomb Squad and works very closely with the SWAT Team. If required they are responsible for the use of explosives for entry into buildings barricaded by armed suspects.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that all people have the right of free speech and assembly as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and also the California State Constitution. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office upholds the right of free speech and assembly and will actively protect those people that choose to exercise that right.
The purpose of the Tactical Team is to ensure the protection of lawful demonstrators and to take enforcement action for any unlawful civil disobedience.
The duties of the Tactical Team are to respond to all civil disobedience or disorders, riots and unlawful assemblies. The Tactical Team manages crowds, enforces dispersal orders, and protects property and if necessary arrests offenders.
Tactical Dispatch Unit
Tactical Dispatchers help facilitate any critical incident operation by organizing all incoming information and getting it to the right source. They make contacts as requested by the Tactical or Incident Commander and any other information gathering that is needed. The Tactile Dispatchers assist in many ways to insure a safe and efficient operation in any critical incident or emergency.
Tactical Paramedic Team
Developed in 1999, the Tactical Paramedic Program is a component of the Special Operations Unit. Although not a requirement, all the Tactical Medics are full-time firefighters with local jurisdictions. Tactical Medics play a vital role in our ability to contain, control, and de-escalate a critical incident, while minimizing the risk to innocent bystanders, victims, law enforcement personnel, as well as the suspect. The role of the Tactical Medic is very complex, but includes:
Ability to provide advanced, on scene medical support during high-risk operations
Ability to work within the “hot zone” during critical incidents
Assesses, plans, and provides preventative medical care during sustained operations
Coordinates both ground and air medical support units
Coordinates with local trauma centers in the event of a mass causality incident
Develops a “Medical Threat Assessment” based upon available medical intelligence
Makes recommendations designed to enhance team member’s health and performance
Since our Tactical Medics are firefighters as well, they also provide the Special Operations Unit with expertise in the areas of:
Toxic hazards-identification, risks, and management
Rope rescue skills
Building construction knowledge
Fire suppression capabilities
Forced entry knowledge and associated tools
Duties and Responsibilities
Formed in 1985, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Transportation Bureau manages the safe and secure transportation of inmates. This is accomplished by utilizing trained and experienced deputies to prevent against escapes and to ensure the safety of the inmates, staff and the public.
The unit transports an average of 75 to 125 inmates each day.
Destinations of these inmates may include, San Quentin, Napa State Hospital, Norton Treatment Center, Los Guilucos, the North County Detention Facility, the Main Adult Detention Facility, courts, work crews, as well as local hospitals and medical offices.
In one fiscal year, 22,832 inmates were transported between these and other locations, with an average of 50,000 miles driven (June 2001 – July 2002).
The Transportation Unit also coordinates and executes the pickup of inmates extradited as suspects or witnesses throughout the United States and internationally.
The Transportation Bureau consists of one Sergeant, six uniformed Sheriff Deputies and two extra-help Deputies. Deputies assigned to the Transportation Unit are required to possess a Class B driver’s license, as well as a passenger transport and air brake certificate. These Deputies must also pass a biannual medical exam and are subject to random chemical testing per Department of Transportation guidelines.
The Sheriff’s Office Transportation Bureau has a fleet of four vehicles, including a bus capable of transporting 39 inmates and two Deputies, a smaller bus that can hold 22 inmates and two Deputies, a van that is able to hold 11 inmates and two Deputies and a vehicle that can transport three inmates and two Deputies.
MULTIPLE AGENCY GANG ENFORCEMENT TEAM “MAGNET”
Over ten years ago the law enforcement agencies of Sonoma County joined forces to combat gang violence in our communities. In 1994 the first “task force” dubbed “MAGNET” took to the streets to specifically target enforcement activities toward known gang members who were committing crimes. This multi agency team worked throughout the county, regardless of agency jurisdictions. These initial task force operations were for a specific time period. After each operational period a dramatic decrease in gang activity was seen after a few months the activity would rise again.
In 1997, the Sonoma County Chief’s Association agreed to make this effort a full time task force. Although not all agencies still participate, the majority does by either committing a member of their agency to the task force or by funding the task forces activities. Currently the task force consists of:
One Deputy Sheriff Sergeant from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
One officer from the California Highway Patrol
Two Deputies from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
MAGNET can be reached at (707) 565-7394
Agencies that assist with funding:
Cloverdale Police Department
Healdsburg Police Department
Windsor Police Department
Sebastopol Police Dept
Cotati Police Department
Sonoma Police Department
Sonoma State University Police Department
Santa Rosa Junior College Police Department
Petaluma Police Department
Links to Gang Resources:
WWW.CGIAONLINE.ORG (California Gang Investigations Association)
WWW.NAGIA.ORG (National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association)
WWW.OJJDP.NCJRS.ORG (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)
WWW.SAFESTATE.ORG (Attorney Generals Crime and Violence Prevention center
COURT SECURITY BUREAU
“If we cannot ensure the safety of all participants in the judicial process, we cannot maintain integrity of the system, we cannot – in sum – ‘establish justice,’ as mandated in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States.”
Joint Statement, 1982
Warren Burger, U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice
William French Smith, U.S. Attorney General
In order for a society with our democratic principals to survive, there must be a neutral environment where conflicts can be resolved and the rules of the society can be tested and enforced. This forum must be free from violence and must maintain an impartial atmosphere to promote justice and equality.
Duties and Responsibilities
The Court Security Bureau is responsible for providing a safe courthouse environment for judges, attorneys, court personnel and the general public. The purpose of Court Security is to assure that order and control is maintained in the court system.
Specific duties include:
Maintaining order and decorum in courtrooms and court premises.
Patrolling courthouse facilities.
Effecting arrests, remands and confiscating contraband when necessary.
Prisoner movement within the courthouse.
Guarding and isolating sequestered juries.
Assuming responsibilities for all emergency medical, fire and bomb threats.
In the 2002 calendar year:
There were 44,856 civil matters (including probate, small claims, unlimited civil and family law) heard on a variety of calendars.
There were 10,102 traffic matters requiring court appearances.
There were over 134,000 criminal court cases calendared.
There were 44,856 civil matters (including probate, small claims, unlimited civil and family law) heard on a variety of calendars.
To deter security problems from occurring.
To detect security problems when they do occur.
To take appropriate action whenever security problems are encountered.
The Sonoma County Hall of Justice
More than 442,000 people visit the Sonoma County Hall of Justice annually. All visitors to the Sonoma County Hall of Justice must pass through fully equipped screening checkpoints at both entrances of the courthouse. Two uniform contract security officers operate each security screening station. Security officers staff the metal detector and X-ray screening device to prevent weapons and contraband from entering the courtrooms.
Any item that may be potentially used as a weapon is restricted from entry. Items such as knives and fingernail files, although not illegal to possess outside of the courtroom, will not be allowed inside of the courthouse. Weapons of any sort are confiscated and violations of security policies could result in criminal prosecution.
In 2001, security officers prevented 15,110 items from entering the Sonoma County Hall of Justice. These items included: 5,753 knives, 1,054 scissors, 437 screwdrivers, 267 razor blades, 265 canisters of pepper spray, 238 butane lighters, 46 pairs of handcuffs, 25 pruning shears, 72 credit card knives, 76 marijuana pipes, and 13 ring knives.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Court Security Bureau is comprised of one Lieutenant, two Sergeants and 26 Sheriff Deputies and 20 extra-help Deputies. There are also six contractual entrance-screening employees.
Sonoma County Hall of Justice
Courtrooms 1 – 17
600 Administration Drive
Santa Rosa, California 95403 Civil Court Annex (Coddingtown)
Courtrooms 18 & 19
1450 Guerneville Road
Santa Rosa, California 95403
Juvenile Delinquency Division
133 Pythian Road North
Santa Rosa, California 95409 Empire College Court Annex
Courtrooms 20 & 21
3035 Cleveland Avenue, Suite 200
Santa Rosa, California 95403
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Marine Unit is responsible for patrolling all of the extensive waterways in Sonoma County. Their mission is boating safety, education, search and rescue, and enforcement of Maritime Law, Federal Law, State Law, and County Ordinances.
The personnel assigned to this unit are cross-trained and deputized as United States Customs Agents and Emergency Medical Technicians.
The Marine Unit is staffed with one Sergeant and four Deputies, working out of a substation located at Lake Sonoma.
Sonoma County has numerous waterways. Including:
63 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline (where our jurisdiction extends out three miles);
62 miles of the Russian River;
Lake Sonoma (with 75 miles of shoreline);
the Petaluma River;
Sonoma Creek and its connected sloughs;
and a portion of the San Pablo Bay (part of the San Francisco Bay system).
The Marine Unit accomplishes this mission through the use of four patrol boats, two of which are stationed on Lake Sonoma, one at Bodega Bay, and one on the Petaluma River. In addition, four Yamaha Wave Runners (personal watercraft) are used for a variety of assignments where the patrol boats are not practical.
RESERVE DEPUTY SHERIFF
Reserve Deputy Sheriffs are part-time, volunteer peace officers. They enjoy the challenge and excitement offered by law enforcement as well as the satisfaction of providing worthwhile community service. They serve at the pleasure of the Sheriff and are not covered by the civil service system.
Some people serve as Reserve Deputies as an avocation. Others are interested in law enforcement as a career and want to “test the waters.” We encourage either motivation.
Reserve Deputies augment the regular operations of the Sheriff’s Department by working in uniform in the Patrol Bureau. Reserve Deputies have peace officer powers when on-duty but have no peace officer powers and may not carry a concealed weapon (without a license) when off duty. New Reserve Deputies are assigned to the Field Training Program and after completion, Level 1 Reserves may work alone, with a full-time Regular Deputy or with another Reserve Deputy. Level 2 Reserves are assigned to work as a partner with a full-time Deputy Sheriff.
Reserve Deputies are issued most necessary uniforms and equipment.
Formed in 1966, the Reserve Deputy program started with 11 people, some of whom were former full-time peace officers. The number of Reserves increased over a period of several years to a high of 75. Increased hiring for full-time positions, increased educational requirements and federal legislation prohibiting many county employees from volunteering as Reserve Deputies greatly diminished the numbers.
Still, after more than 200 Reserves going full-time with our agency and other city, state and federal agencies, a core group serves the county donating thousands of hours per year.
Two former Sheriffs, Mark Ihde and Jim Piccinini, started their careers with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office as Reserve Deputies.
No felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
21 years of age or older
Good moral character
High school graduate or GED equivalent
Physically and psychologically suitable
Modules 3 and 2 of the Extended Basic Academy must be completed prior to appointment.
Call the Sheriff’s Personnel office at 707-565-2779 and ask for an application for Reserve Deputy Sheriff. Or, download the application. Complete and return the application.
You will be notified by mail of the time and place for the next orientation and oral interview. Those applicants who successfully complete the oral interview will be invited to commence the background investigation process for further consideration.
Email Reserve Captain Mike Voorhees or call him at 707-565-8817.
DEFENSIVE TACTICS UNIT
In 1985 the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office implemented an in-house, defensive tactics training programs. The program was designed to insure annual defensive tactics instruction for all deputies and to provide annual re-certification for the instructors. The program is still active today and utilizing the most modern theories, materials, and techniques, which is exceeds all standards required by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Instructors are selected on their ability to perform specific physical techniques, their knowledge of current case laws governing the use of force techniques and for their abilities to instruct others. Areas covered in training are: the legal aspects of when force can be used, including the legal aspects of escalation of force, instruction of physical tactics including unarmed defensive tactics, impact weapons, low-lethal firearms, weapon retention, mace and pepper sprays usage and the application of the carotid restraint.
Use of force classes are taught at new employee orientation, annual Advanced Deputy Training, Citizen’s Academies, to our Explorers, to our Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s and when requested, to other law enforcement agencies.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team is made up of full-time deputies that are trained in: Free-Diving, S.C.U.B.A. Swift Water Rescue and Surf Rescue. The function of the Sonoma County dive team is recovery of evidence, raising sunken vessels and the recovery of victims from any fatal water activity.
Members of the Dive Team train with the Sheriff’s Helicopter Unit, “Henry One”, and the Marine Unit. All divers are Advanced Open Water Divers and certified for night dives. All of the Dive Team members are NITOX certified.
Monthly training is conducted in the Russian River, Lake Sonoma and the Sonoma County coast. Many of the Dive Team members are NAUI or PADI instructors.
Their equipment is top of the line and the dive team has their own 4×4 pick-up and a 20′ “Dive Trailer” that holds all the gear and has ample room for changing and warm-up. Members of the Dive Team are subject to call-outs 24/7.
The Bomb Squad consists of highly trained deputies that respond to and render explosive devices safe and to provide guidelines, training and assistance to department personnel responding to explosive ordnance calls.
The Bomb Squad supplies services to other cities in Sonoma County, with the Santa Rosa Junior College and to Sonoma State University, via contacts.
The Sonoma County Bomb Squad has received assignments to assist other law enforcement agencies at such major events as the U.S. Olympics. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department’s Bomb Squad is available to law enforcement communities outside of our county through California Mutual Aid protocol.
EMERGENCY VEHICLE OPERATIONS COURSE
Vehicle Operations Course Image
Emergency Vehicle Operations Training
This course provides training for Deputies to becoming proficient at applying the skills and knowledge to operate an emergency vehicle. Deputies begin vehicle operations at slow speeds and gradually begin applying skills at a higher rates of speed. This training help the Deputies develop good defensive driving habits as well as providing the skills needed to drive at high speeds. New Deputies are required to attend 20 hours of training. Refresher courses are required throughout a Deputy’s career. Specific areas of training covered are:
Slow Speed Maneuvers
High Speed Steering Exercise
High Speed Backing
PIT(Pursuit Intervention Technique)
In 1992 the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office updated our Firearms Training Program to coincide with their successful Defensive Tactics Training Program. Our Firearms exceeds all standards and requirements as set forth by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Our firearms instructors are certified through advanced instructor courses obtained from such recognized organizations as; National Tactical Officers Association, California Association of Tactical Officers, Gunsite Training Center, Yavapai Firearms, Morrigan Firearms Consulting, and the National Rifle Association’s Law Enforcement Training Program. The realms of expertise of our instructors include the use of semi-automatic and revolver type handguns, semi-automatic and automatic rifles, shotguns, and bolt action rifles.
Annual instruction include basic firearms training, range safety, legal update on use of force issues, low-lethal firearms, officer survival techniques, advanced firearms training, building searches, positional shooting, and SWAT tactics as well as conducting new deputy orientation, and conducting awareness lectures at the Citizen’s Academy.
FIELD TRAINING OFFICER
The management of the Field Training Program is assigned to a Patrol Lieutenant. There are Sergeants that are assigned as supervisors and it is their responsibility to prepare a six-month performance evaluation for each trainee. This program is mandate by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training for all Deputy Sheriff’s, including Reserve Deputies.
Upon completion of the Basic Police Academy, or initial hiring, the new trainee is assigned to a two-week orientation program. The standard length of the Field Training Program is eighteen weeks. During the eighteen-week program, the trainee is assigned to at least three different Field Training Officers. The Field Training Officer completes a Daily Observation Report of their trainee and after discussing it with the trainee, turns it in to the Sergeant. A Weekly Evaluation Report then follows.
At the conclusion of the FTO program the trainee is assigned to the Patrol Bureau.
The Sheriff’s Department has two motorcycle units working within Sonoma County. The first motor unit operates in the unincorporated areas and the second motorcycle unit is stationed in our law enforcement contract city of Windsor.
The Motorcycle Unit working in the unincorporated area is staffed with one sergeant and six deputies. This unit is responsible for patrol of roadways, parks, and beaches throughout the county. The motor unit is assigned to crowd and riot control, search and rescue, crime prevention.
The second motor unit has three officers assigned and is stationed at the Windsor Police Department. This is an assignment based on the “High Visibility” enforcement of local and state traffic laws. Some of the officer’s duties include the issuing of citations for speeding and other traffic violations. The officers investigate traffic collisions, perform abandoned/unregistered vehicle abatement and enforce parking regulations. They also are responsible for DUI reduction and enforcement.
Other duties for both motorcycle units may include the general patrol of an assigned area, investigations of felony and misdemeanor crimes. The motor units also participate in crime prevention activities at local schools. The motorcycle units are featured in parades and other formal gatherings and serve as a valuable tool for public relations.
The Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving Unit was created through a policing philosophy that promotes and supports organizational strategies to address the causes of crime and social disorder through problem solving tactics and community partnerships. Community policing enables law enforcement to create close community relationships and use a proactive approach to problem solving.
The COPPS Unit consists of one Sergeant, three Deputies, three Community Services Officers (CSO) and two Volunteers. The Deputies primary responsibilities are targeting specific community problems such as street level drug dealing, problem houses, prostitution, homeless camps and school safety programs. They also assist other units within the department and work along side other agencies to solve problems. One CSO is primarily responsible for coordinating community related events such as Neighborhood Watch meetings, Hall of Justice and Jail Tours, Safety Fairs, and safety presentations for schools and other segments of the community. In addition, this CSO provides crime statistics to members of the public and performs general office duties. The second CSO runs the Graffiti Removal component of the Unit. The primary responsibility of this position is removal of graffiti within the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County and work with land owners to prevent future incidences. The third CSO is a part-time position, and assists fellow CSOs with many of their activities and performs typical office duties. The Volunteers assists with the Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program by tagging and removing junk vehicles from county and private property.