The Sheriff's Office Detective Division is responsible for the investigation of criminal activities that occur and to investigate unusual and sudden deaths that take place anywhere within the County. This includes all misdemeanor and felony crimes from vandalism to homicide. In addition to criminal investigations, this unit also conducts follow-up investigation for all missing persons reported to the Sheriff's Office, as well as spousal and elder abuse cases. The Detective Division has the responsibility to prepare criminal cases for review by the District Attorney’s Office for criminal filing.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff-Coroner is one of 47 Sheriff Coroners in the State of California. California Government Code dictates that all suspicious deaths, accidental deaths, unattended deaths, deaths by suicide, or deaths by homicide must be reported to the Coroners Office. There are on average approximately 1,300 reportable deaths to the Coroner Office on an annual basis in the County of San Luis Obispo. Most natural deaths that occur within the county are investigated by patrol deputies in their respective patrol areas. Approximately 25% of those reportable cases are investigated by the Coroner Unit of the Detective Division. When a death is suspicious, a suspected suicide, industrial accident, traffic fatality or homicide, they are investigated by one of three detectives assigned to the Coroner Unit. The Coroner Investigator is charged with investigating the cause and manner of death. Working in conjunction with a contracted Forensic Pathologist, the cause and manner of death is determined through a thorough investigation.
Sexual Assault Unit
The Sexual Assault Unit is responsible for investigating cases of physical and sexual abuse within the unincorporated area of the County. The investigation of physical and sexual abuse cases are highly specialized, and require expert training. Investigators also provide training to mandated reporters of child abuse, as well as community groups. This Unit is also part of one of the statewide S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) Teams. These teams were created in January of 2007, and are designed to combine efforts to increase the compliance rate of registered sex offenders. Teams work jointly with local police departments, probation and parole, in furtherance of proactive registered sex offender enforcement with the goal of creating a consistent response to the offender registration requirement. Additionally, the S.A.F.E. Team provides training to better educate the public on the Megan’s Law system, and present a proactive, zero-tolerance stance against sex offenders who fail to comply with registration requirements.
High Tech Crime
The fight against High Tech Crimes includes both the investigation of online criminal activity on the Internet and the field of computer forensics. Computer Forensics is the process of obtaining evidence from digital media (hard drives, CDs, DVDs, diskettes, etc.) that can be presented in a court of law.
The Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated computer forensics lab facility, and has trained personnel in both online crime investigations and computer forensics. The Office works closely with other allied agencies within the County to make these specialized capabilities available to their respective investigative units.
The Sheriff’s Crime Lab is a full service facility serving local, state and federal agencies with evidence processing, suspect identification, advice and training. The lab is staffed by two Forensic Specialists, a Forensic Chemist, the CAL-ID Coordinator, an Administrative Specialist and various volunteers. Each member of the lab brings unique insight and proficiency to the unit. The combined experience of the forensic professionals on the team totals nearly 70 years. Some of the skill sets available are finger and palm print identification, photography, tire and shoe impression identification, latent friction ridge (fingerprint) development, substance identification, as well as crime scene investigation and analysis.
The Sheriff’s Patrol Division is responsible for the first line law enforcement in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. Deputies respond to calls for service, conduct proactive law enforcement activities, and perform initial investigations of crime. Patrol personnel are deployed from three stations throughout the County.
The Coast Station patrols from Avila Beach to San Simeon and from the Los Padres mountain range to the Pacific Ocean.
2099 10th Street
Los Osos, CA 93402
The North Station patrols from the Cuesta Grade to Camp Roberts and from the Los Padres mountains to the eastern county line.
356 N. Main
Templeton, CA 93465
The South Station patrols all areas south of Avila Beach.
1681 Front Street
Oceano, CA 93445
Patrol Headquarters is located at 1585 Kansas Avenue in San Luis Obispo, where the on-duty Watch Commanders and the 911/Communications Center are stationed.
Rural Crime Unit
The mission of the Rural Crime Unit is to enforce laws and provide investigative services related to theft and property damage in the agriculture and rural communities. Proactively, the Deputies and Crime Prevention Specialist assigned to the Unit regularly reach out to ranchers and farmers with current crime prevention techniques and strategies. The Rural Crime Unit has partnered with the agriculture and livestock industries in an effort to reduce losses caused by criminal activity, which in turn affects the quality of life in San Luis Obispo County.
Marine Enforcement Unit
The Sheriff's Office Marine Enforcement Unit (MEU) is made up of 1 Commander and 1 Senior Deputy and 3 Deputies which consist of a certified scuba diver and a certified EMT. This unit is responsible for patrolling Lake Lopez as well as 165 miles of Lake Nacimiento shoreline from Memorial Day to Labor Day with the use of their 22 foot Almar rescue/patrol boat and their 21 foot ridged hull inflatable patrol boat. MEU Deputies enforce state, federal and local laws during routine patrol as well as assist with rescues and medical aids on the water. Not only does the MEU aid the US Coast Guard in the harbor and approximately 72 miles of coastline, but they also are part of the NIMS/SIMS callout system which will support any agency in the US in cases of emergencies and natural disasters.
The Sheriff’s Bicycle Team consists of 12 deputies and one supervisor. Four members are assigned to each of the three patrol stations. The bike deputies can be deployed on a part-time basis or a full-time basis for seasonable assignment as a single officer, teams of two, or the entire team can be assigned to special functions such as parades or festivals. Bicycle patrol is adaptable to a wide variety of functions from high visibility patrol to undercover. The uniform of the bike deputy is very distinctive so they are easily identifiable to the community and visible to the motoring public. The bicycles are equipped with red and blue emergency lights, first aid kits, bike tools, and a generous supply of “sheriff” stickers for the kids.
The Sheriff's Dispatch Center is responsible for communications and information between the public, law enforcement, paramedics, and fire. Receiving calls for service from the public, and dispatching deputies, paramedics, and fire personnel to their respective calls contributes to the several hundreds of thousands of incoming and outgoing calls handled by the Sheriff's Dispatch Center each year.
The Special Operations Unit (SOU) is responsible for selected enforcement activities throughout the County.
The Multi-Agency Gang Task Force (GTF) was created to effectively combat gang violence and gang associated problems within the County. By collecting and investigating gang-related information, deputies assigned to GTF are able to focus their attention on those gangs indigenous to or routinely operating within the unincorporated area.
The Special Problems Unit operates to assist the patrol stations with community problem solving. With a wide variety of resources and equipment, the Special Problems Unit focuses on crime issues which are difficult to address while working standard patrol.
The Sheriff’s Narcotic Unit (SNU) is a specialized unit of Detectives that serve San Luis Obispo County with comprehensive investigations involving illegal drug crimes. The Narcotic Unit focuses its efforts on investigations comprised of: clandestine labs, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, designer drugs and prescription drugs. The Narcotic Unit utilizes techniques and tactics such as undercover operatives, informants, surveillance and a myriad of technological advancements to achieve its purpose. Also assigned to the Unit is a black Labrador Retriever named Jake and his handler, Deputy A. Barger. Jake is trained to detect the odor of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, opium and marijuana. Jake assists Detectives with searches as well as partnering with Deputy A. Barger in highway drug interdiction investigations. In addition to the Narcotic Detectives assigned to the Unit, is an Intelligence Detective that concentrates on counter-terrorism investigations throughout the County of San Luis Obispo.
The Sheriff's Special Enforcement Detail is a partnership with the Atascadero Police Department which includes Deputies, Officers and Sergeants, under the authority of the SED Commander. The team is equipped and trained to resolve critical incidents including but not limited to hostage situations, barricaded suspects, armed suicidal subjects, crowd control and high risk warrant service.
The team was formed in the 1970s to deal with the civil unrest of the time. In 2003 the Sheriff's Office formed a partnership with the Atascadero Police Department to expand the size of the team to deal with the increasing threat of terrorism. Call-outs have included riots in Isla Vista, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant protests, and riots in Los Angeles during the early 1990s. S.E.D. has become an integral part of emergency response in San Luis Obispo County. They average 10 to 15 call-outs a year and currently train 10 to 20 hours a month while operators attend basic and advanced tactical courses throughout the state. The tactical equipment supplied to the team is state of the art and include weapons, less lethal munitions, new equipment truck, trailer and armored rescue vehicles. Most critical incidents are resolved without the use of force through negotiations. S.E.D. is currently training with a focus on terrorism as they continue to provide the citizens of San Luis Obispo County one of the best trained, equipped, and motivated tactical teams in the state.
Bomb Task Force
The San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force began responding to calls for service in 1982 and was a coordinated team approach with a thorough commitment from all law enforcement agencies within San Luis Obispo County. Funding resources currently come from the County, all incorporated cities, California State Polytechnic University, and Cuesta College. The Task Force is certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and responds to all bomb related incidents within San Luis Obispo County as well as Monterey County.
Each of the four team members is an FBI trained and certified Bomb Technician, capable of rendering safe and disposing of Improvised Explosive Devices, military ordnance, commercially manufactured explosives, and weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, and chemical) . The Task Force can be contacted on a 24 hour - 7 day a week basis through the Sheriff’s Office Watch Commander at (805) 781-4553.