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Los Angeles County Sheriffs
Past to Present

Earliest photo of a Los Angeles County Sheriff (unknown date): David W. Alexander, who served 1856 and 1876-1877. Courtesy of County of Los Angeles & Wikimedia Commons

Also see:
-- Sheriffs of Los Angeles County of Hispanic Heritage
-- Los Angeles County's Most Regrettable Sheriffs

Sheriff Period in Office
George T. Burrill 1850-1851
James R. Barton 1852-1855
David W. Alexander 1856
Charles E. Hale* 1856
James R. Barton 1857
Elijah Bettis* 1857
William C. Getman 1858
James Thompson* 1858-1859
Tomas A. Sanchez 1860-1867
James F. Burns 1868-1871
William R. Rowland 1872-1875
David W. Alexander 1876-1877
Henry M. Mitchell 1878-1879
William R. Rowland 1880-1882
Alvan T. Currier 1883-1884
George E. Gard 1885-1886
James C. Kays 1887-1888
Martin G. Aguirre 1889-1890
Edward D. Gibson 1890-1892
John C. Cline 1893-1894
John Burr 1895-1898
William A. Hammel 1899-1902
Will A. White 1903-1906
William A. Hammel 1907-1914
John C. Cline 1915-1921
William I. Traeger* 1921-1932
Eugene W. Biscailuz* 1932-1958
Peter J. Pitchess 1959-1982
Sherman Block* 1982-1998
Lee Baca 1998-2014
John Scott* 2014
Jim McDonnell 2014-2018
Alex Villanueva 2018-2022
Robert Luna 2022-present

* Appointed to fill the unexpired term of the predecessor

Sheriff Alex Villanueva, elected in 2018, was the first to defeat an incumbent sheriff in Los Angeles County in an election since John Cline defeated William Hammel 1914 and is the first Spanish-speaking Sheriff of Los Angeles County since Martin Aguirre in 1890. Villanueva was himself was defeated for reelection after only one term in office.

The term of office for Los Angeles County Sheriff was one year until 1882, after which the term was expanded to two years. The sheriff's term of office was expanded to four years in 1894.

Sheriff George Burrill was elected to be the first Sheriff of Los Angeles County in 1850. He was born in 1810 in Rhode Island and arrived in California by way of Mexico. He was known to wear an infantry dress sword maintaining that it added to the dignity of his office.

In 1857, Sheriff James Barton became the first law enforcement officer to die in the performance of his duties in Los Angeles County when trying to capture a gang of bandits.

In 1858, Sheriff William Getman had served only seven days in office when he was killed in the performance of his duties.

Sheriff Tomas Sanchez (1860-1867) was the first native son to be elected Sheriff. He was born in Los Angeles when it was still Mexico.

Sheriff William Rowland (1872-1875; 1880-1882), was the youngest man to serve as Los Angeles County Sheriff at the age of 25. He was responsible for the capture of the bandit Tiburcio Vasquez. He was also able to purchase badges for his deputies, , The cost, however, could not exceed one dollar each according to the Board of Supervisors.

Sheriff George Gard (1885-1886) also served as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Sheriff John Cline (1893-1894; 1915-1921) was born in Australia. He was removed from the office of Sheriff in 1921 by vote of the county Board of Supervisors on charges of incompetence, pocketing county revenue, and over-spending.

Sheriff William A. Hammel (1899-1902; 1907-1914) also served as Chief of the LAPD.

Under Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz, the LASD became the largest Sheriff’s Department in the world. Sheriff held the record for longest consecutive service in the department, having become a deputy in 1907 and serving 51 years until his retirement in 1958.

In 1998, Sheriff Sherman Block died just days before voters were to decide upon his bid to be re-elected to a fourth term as Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Block's supporters were not dismayed and continued to campaign for the late Sheriff’s re-election. They hoped to deny a victory to Block’s opponent, Lee Baca. An election victory for a deceased candidate would place the appointment of a new Sheriff in the hands of the County Board of Supervisors. County Supervisors were not supportive of Baca's candidacy. Baca was considered an outsider to the county political establishment. Baca won the election, however, with more than 60 percent of the vote.


Los Angeles Sheriffs' Museum

STARS Center
11515 S Colima Rd
Building "B"
Whittier, CA 90604
Telephone: (562) 946-7859