Sandra Hutchens was sworn in as the 12th elected Sheriff-Coroner for Orange County in June of 2008.  She began her law enforcement career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1976.  With more than thirty-five years of service in law enforcement, Sheriff Hutchens possesses invaluable experience in nearly every facet of law enforcement. 

Sheriff Hutchens leads approximately 4000 sworn and professional men and women who serve in areas as diverse as Field Operations, Criminal and Special Investigations, the county’s Crime Lab and courts, Coroner’s Office, as well as those who serve in Orange County’s five jails, representing the eighth largest jail system in the nation.  The department provides a variety of vital public safety services to our communities. These include direct patrol services to more than 700,000 residents within the county’s unincorporated areas and thirteen contracted cities, the county’s three harbors, John Wayne Airport, and the Orange County Transportation Agency.  

Professional affiliations include membership and positions in:

  • the National Sheriffs’ Association,
  • Major County Sheriffs’ Association, recently elected as the Vice President with a two year term beginning in January 2014,
  • Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriff’s Association,
  • Serves as a board member for the California State Sheriffs’ Association,
  • Recently appointed to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. 

Counter-terrorism training received in Israel, travels to Pakistan and Russia, and leadership training at the FBI National Academy, the FBI National Executive Institute and the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative course at Harvard University have provided Sheriff Hutchens with the expertise and vision needed to effectively lead an organization as diverse as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

John Scott is the Undersheriff who assists the Sheriff with the day-to-day operations of the department. He has nearly forty-five years of law enforcement experience and is relentless in seeking ways to improve our service and to mitigate our risks.


Professional Services Command

Our Professional Services Command team is led by Assistant Sheriff Don Barnes and Commander Dave Nighswonger.  Their areas of command are: Coroner's Office, Orange County Crime Lab, Professional Standards, SAFE and Training.

Coroner's Office

The Coroner's Office is a 24/7 operation which conducts death investigations and autopsies. They also operate the California Coroner Training Center.  The Training Center has trained over 1500 death investigations professionals from California, Nevada and Arizona. The Coroner's Office provides a core group of elite instructors and subject matter experts who have received special recognition for their training expertise. 

Orange County Crime Lab

The Orange County Crime Lab is the only full-service, internationally accredited laboratory providing forensic analyses to all law enforcement and fire protection agencies in Orange County. The OC Crime Lab is the first local law enforcement DNA lab in the Western United States. We began the first local automated fingerprint identification system in California and we are leading the way in DUI enforcement with the introduction of portable breath alcohol testing devices. The crime lab has received over $900,000 of grant monies from the Office of Traffic Safety for Drugged Driving, Portable Evidentiary Breath Testing, THC correlation studies, and volatiles (inhalants) abuse while driving. The lab staff has received special recognition for their exceptional work in the following areas: 2012 Society of Forensic Toxicologists Young Forensic Scientist of the Year – Dani Mata; ISO International Accreditation; Breath Calibration Laboratory in 2010 – sixth laboratory in the world to receive Breath Calibration accreditation; 2012 Homeless Homicide Investigative Task Force, and first familial hit at California Department of Justice with a 1978 Santa Ana Police Department homicide cold case.

Professional Standards Division

As our local economy improved, our Professional Standards Division accelerated our hiring campaign of both sworn and professional staff. The staff conducted countless recruitments and pre-employment background investigations. Their response for the demand of new employees was remarkable. They fulfilled our staffing needs and more. During this hiring surge, our Professional Standards Division received special recognition from the Department of Defense for the exemplary support of guard and reserve employees. The Orange County Sheriff's Department was the recipient of the U.S. Secretary of Defense's Employer Support "Freedom Award."


OCSD created an internal mechanism to mitigate risks and protect department members with the formation of the SAFE Division. SAFE is an acronym for Strategy, Accountability, Focus and Evaluation.  SAFE has been in place since October 2008, and is tasked with the creation and revision of policies and procedures to bring the department up to industry standards, utilizing the best practices available. The ultimate goal of the unit is to reduce the department's exposure to liability and, with real-time risk management software currently utilized by supervisors and managers, to oversee the successes and areas of needed improvement within our department.

SAFE consists of many specialized units to effectively handle complex issues facing the law enforcement community:  Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Safety and Training, Office of Continuous Improvement, Critical Incident Review Board, Risk Liaison Officer Program, Personal History Index, Assessments, Labor Relations, and Policy Manual and Traffic Collision Review Board. 


The Orange County Sheriff's Department operates a Regional Training Academy in partnership with the Santiago Community College District. The Academy provides training to numerous law enforcement agencies throughout the State of California. The Training Division provides both Standards Training for Corrections (STC) and Advanced Officer Training (AOT) for the region and the state law enforcement stakeholders.

Custody and Court Operations Command

The Custody and Court Operations Command is under the leadership of Assistant Sheriff Lee Trujillo and Commander Steve Kea. They manage the following divisions: Court Operations, Central Men's and Women's Jails, Intake Release Center, James A. Musick Facility, Theo Lacy Facility and Inmate Services Division.  Our custody operations processes over 65,000 inmate bookings per year and houses nearly 7000 inmates each day.  Additionally, since October 2011, with the implementation of AB 109 State Prison realignment, our custody operations staff also manages innovative alternatives to incarceration. These programs include: a Community Work Program (CWP), an Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP), and a Custody Transition Program.

In August 2010, the department entered into a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house immigration detainees. This five-year contract makes a maximum of 838 beds available to ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations for detainees awaiting deportation. This complex cost-sharing model has allowed the department to manage its budget deficit without releasing inmates before conclusion of their assigned sentences and permits us to keep all of our facilities open and operational.

As with most other California Sheriffs' Departments, the Court Operations Division has been impacted significantly with a reduction in state funding. The Sheriff and court staff have worked together closely in the development of strategies to weather the negative fiscal impacts. These creative, "outside the box" methods resulted in the realignment of courtrooms, strategic personnel deployment in courtrooms, and the creation of a new courtroom inside the Central Jail. These constantly evolving challenges are met by dedicated staff members who continue to provide courthouse security; the enforcement of warrants for arrest, service and enforcement of civil process; and the transportation of health conservatees.

In 2012 our Custody and Court Operations Command was honored by the California Peace Officers' Association and received the COPSWEST Award, "Go Green", for our comprehensive recycling efforts. The department not only reduced our carbon footprint but also managed to generate savings.

Field Operations and Investigative Services Command

The Field Operations and Investigative Services Command is led by Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings and Commander Linda Solorza. They oversee the day to day operations of the following: Airport Operations, Emergency Management, Homeland Security, Investigations, North and South Operations.  

The Homeland Security Division was created in 2008. The division consists of multiple disciplines: Special Enforcement – SWAT/K-9/Aero and Hazardous Devices, Mass Transit (OCTA, Explosives Detection Unit/Module-Rail section); Marine Operations/Harbor Patrol, Counter-Terrorism (JTTF/Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center-Nationally accredited fusion center); Emergency Management Bureau; and Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Bureau.  The creation of the Homeland Security Division unified the command of vital assets which are deployed regularly to fulfill the regional request for services.

The Investigative Services Command has been recognized as a leading agency in fighting hate crimes. For the third consecutive year the Orange County Sheriff's Department received the 2013 Anti-Defamation League's very prestigious "Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate". Our deputies were recognized for their investigative efforts in the fight against white racist gangs. Our Investigative Units are also involved in numerous regional enforcement teams: Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; Regional Narcotics Suppression Program; Orange County Auto Theft Task Force; Sexual Offender Notification and Registration (SONAR); Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory; the Methamphetamine Lab Task Force; Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCAT); Gang Enforcement Teams; and the Highway Drug Interdiction Team. 

Our Field Operations Command staff has been recognized for numerous examples of outstanding work.  North Operations fields the Neighborhood Enhancement Team, based on a problem-oriented policing concept. The team has been instrumental in building a partnership with the communities.  South Operations deploys the Directed Enforcement Team, which conducts targeted enforcement on specific crime trends or significant criminal incident. They also work closely with the Orange County Probation Department and conduct numerous AB 109 re-alignment enforcement sweeps. Our Juvenile Services Bureau provides a very dynamic service to our youth, parents and schools. The department deploys School Resource Officers and the School Mobile Assessment Resource Team (SMART). The team responds to any threats involving schools or students and is trained in mobile field force movements and active shooter response. 

The department has also received numerous awards for the Hide It, Lock It, or Lose It program. The program is based on prevention of theft of property. The program has received the following awards: winner of the 2012 Golden Hub of Innovation Award by the Association of California cities and the 2011- California State Winner of the Crime Prevention Program of the Year Award.

The Airport Operations Division provides police services for the John Wayne Airport. They patrol the airport, checking for hazardous conditions, suspicious persons or activity. The Explosives Detection Team is comprised of three (3) K-9 teams and one Sheriff's Special Officer, who fulfills the role of team trainer. The team protects the public, airport employees and property by acting as a pro-active deterrent against possible terrorist and criminal activity. They conduct random and directed bomb sweeps of the terminal area, aircraft, parking areas, freight building and cargo area. 

The Emergency Management Division provides emergency management and preparedness services to the unincorporated areas of Orange County and supports the efforts of the Orange County Operational Area. There are currently 115 jurisdictions in the Operational Area (OA) encompassing all county departments and agencies, public and private organizations and the general population within the boundaries of Orange County. 

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has designated the Sheriff-Coroner Department as the lead agency in matters of emergency preparedness and disaster response. The county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is located at Loma Ridge and is maintained in a constant state of readiness by the Emergency Management Division. In emergencies involving earthquakes, tsunamis, civil disturbances, energy crises, nuclear power plant emergencies, terrorism and acts of war, the Sheriff-Coroner is designated as the Director of Emergency Services (DES). Similarly, the Fire Services Director is designated as the DES for a fire, mass casualty incident or hazardous material release. The County Executive Officer is the DES for emergencies including, but not limited to flood, storm, dam failure, a coastal oil spill, a threat or declaration of an epidemic or recovery.

Administrative Services Command

The Administrative Services Command is led by Executive Director Jane Reyes and Senior Director Brian Wayt. They oversee the administrative and support divisions of the department with over 400 employees, including: Financial/Administrative Services, Research and Development (facilities), Communications and Technology, and Support Services (IT). 

The command's most recent accomplishments include application for and approval of state funding in the amount of $100 million to expand the James A. Musick jail facility; successful completion of a contract with the city of Yorba Linda for Law Enforcement Services; plus over the past five years, the Financial/Administrative Services Division provided critical financial strategies to weather the "Great Recession" to allow us to continue providing critical law enforcement services for the public.  

Members of the Financial/Administrative Services Division keep a watchful eye on the department's annual operating budget, which is over $700 million.  They also develop and monitor the department's Five Year Strategic Financial Plan, 20 budgets, law enforcement contracts for 13 cities, and payroll for nearly 4,000 department members.  Research and Development Division has worked to improve our aging facilities and equip our deputies with needed equipment to do their jobs safely.  Communications and Technology Division continues to move forward with the delivery of the current and next generation of 800 MHz radio communications, Patrol Video Systems upgrades and other new technologies to improve efficiencies.  Our Support Services Division explores new ways of gathering and safeguarding the network highways.  Work is in progress to develop an automated field reporting system to create further efficiencies.  These information roadways are critical to the day-to-day operations of the department. Most importantly, they serve as the playbook for the way we deliver our law enforcement services to the community.  

During this past year each of the 20 divisions participated in what we termed "Command College for Divisions" to learn about each other's operations.  The information shared from all the divisions helped to define our respective missions and the interaction needed from others to make us successful.  We all learned more about the importance of the support functions and how critical they are to everyday field operations.

I am very humbled and honored to be selected by the Major County Sheriffs' Association to receive the "Shining Star Award," and I accept this special recognition on behalf of all the members of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.  Each day, our department members display a dedication to duty and public service and a relentless commitment to safeguard our communities. They are the "Shining Stars".

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