The following is a list of important dates in our department’s history:
1853 – Robert Clift took the oath of office as the first Sheriff of San Bernardino County.
1890 – The Barstow and Victor Valley Sheriff’s Stations were established.
1909 – Sheriff John C. Ralphs directed the hunt for Paiute Indian “Willie Boy” who was wanted for murder. The hunt ended in the Old Woman Springs area with Willie Boy dead, surrounded by Ralphs and his posse. The manner of death is argued to have been by suicide or at the hands of the posse.
1915 – Captain Frank Freem was the first San Bernardino County Traffic Officer. He later joined the California Highway Patrol.
1923 – Sheriff Walter Shay appointed the Department’s first Identification Superintendent, O.W. Bottorf
1927 – The County courthouse on Arrowhead Avenue opened its doors. It maintained a jail facility on the 4th floor that was in use until 2014.
1929 – After numerous temporary locations, the Victorville built its first permanent station.
1933 – Sheriff Ernest Shay began the use of automobiles equipped with radios.
1934 – The Sheriff’s Rangers were established.
1935 – The first use in San Bernardino County of radio transmitter for law enforcement.
1940 – The West End substation was established.
1941 – The Fontana Substation was established.
1945 – The Big Bear Station was established.
1946 – The Sheriff’s Employee Benefits Association was established. The Juvenile Bureau was formed.
1950 – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Reserves were formed and first used in Fontana. Wrightwood Reserves were formed.
1951 – The Reserve Mounted Posse and the Reserve Motorcycle Posse were formed. The Ladies Auxiliary was formed for female employees and the wives of regularly employed deputies.
1952 – The first regular Transportation Division was established with two men and a 1952 Chevy station wagon. The first full-time deputy was assigned to Twentynine Palms. The Sheriff’s Aero Squadron was formed.
1953 – The Sheriff’s Reserve Emergency Unit and the Women’s Sheriff’s Reserve Unit were formed.
1954 – Sheriff Frank Bland stated the nation’s first narcotic “Buy Program.”
1957 – The Yucaipa Substation was opened. The first Sheriff’s Rodeo was held at the Orange Show.
1959 – The first Department aircraft was purchased, a Cessna 180.
1960 – Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center opened as a work camp.
1962 – Victorville became a contract city. The ID Bureau switched from black and white photographs to color of both felons and misdemeanants.
1963 – The Intelligence Division was formed.
1965 – The Special Enforcement Detail was formed.
1968 – The Bureau of Administration was formed.
1971 – Central Detention Center opened.
1975 – The Twin Peaks Station opened.
1978 – In July, Rancho Cucamonga became the first contract city with the Department.
1980 – On May 9, the Norco Bank Robbery occurred with one Riverside County deputy killed. The ensuing pursuit ended in San Bernardino County with the Lytle Creek Shootout in which two suspects were killed and three were captured.
1982 – November, the Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley substations closed and moved into the first consolidated county government center in the Morongo Basin.
1985 – Department K-9 Team formed.
1987 – July, The Communications Division was formed when the Sheriff consolidated the six valley stations into a central location in Rialto.
1987 – The present-day Headquarters opened on 3rd Street in San Bernardino.
1987 – Chino Hills became a contract city.
1987 – November 3, The city of Highland incorporated and contracted with the Sheriff’s Department.
1988 – The city of Hesperia became a contract city.
1991 – The Emergency Vehicle Operation Center (EVOC) opened.
1991 – West Valley Detention Center Opened in Rancho Cucamonga.
1999 – October, The San Bernardino County Marshal’s Department merged into the Sheriff’s Department.
2002 – February, The city of Adelanto became a contract city.
2005 – January, The Coroner’s Department became a part of the Sheriff’s Department.
2006 – The Adelanto Detention Center opened.
2009 – July 4, The Fontana Station was briefly renamed the West Foothill Station.
2013 – February 12, A former Los Angeles police officer wounded Deputy Alex Collins and fatally shot Detective Jeremiah MacKay at Seven Oak in the San Bernardino Mountains.
2015 – December 2, A terrorist couple living in the city of Redlands, shot up a work party at the Inland Regional Center, killing 14 people and wounding 22 others. Law enforcement from several agencies responded.
The suspects were contacted later in the day and engaged officers in gunfire which resulted in the deaths of the two killers.
2018 – February 20, After more than two years and a change in administrations, President Donald Trump recognized six members of our local law enforcement community for their acts of bravery in the aftermath of the December 2 shooting. President Trump awarded the Medal of Valor to Deputy Shaun Wallen, Detective Rafael Ixco, and Detective Bruce Southworth of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnston (formerly of the Sheriff’s Department), Redlands Police Officer Nicholas Koahou, and San Bernardino Police Detective Brian Olvera.
Please contact the Historical Society with any corrections or additions. Thank you.