Sheriff James R. Barton was Los Angeles County’s second Sheriff and its first law enforcement officer killed on duty. In 1857, just three weeks after his re-election as Sheriff, Barton set out towards San Juan Capistrano (then part of Los Angeles County) with a posse to capture a group of bandits. The bandits were encountered on the morning of January 23. In the ensuing gunfight, Sheriff Barton and all but two of his posse were shot and killed. Three of the bandits were also killed. A second posse later pursued the remaining bandits, capturing 52 of them. Eleven of the bandits were hanged at Fort Hill.
Since the 1857 death of Sheriff Barton and his posse members, 459 local, state and federal law enforcement officers have died while performing their duties within Los Angeles County. On the grounds of the Sheriff’s Training Center at 11515 Colima Road in Whittier, the name of each officer is inscribed upon a memorial to honor and remember their sacrifice. The Los Angeles Almanac sets aside a special page to record the names of these officers.