Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith


Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a native of Michigan where she lived until completion of high school. In 1969 she relocated to San Jose, California to pursue higher education and begin her law enforcement career. Sheriff Smith has spent her entire professional career with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

While still an undergraduate, she began her public service career in 1973 when she was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff Matron, then the only full peace officer status position available to women. Until 1976, female sworn staff received the same basic police training as their male counterparts, but were only allowed to work in non-enforcement capacities. She was one of the first female deputies to perform patrol and undercover functions.

Laurie Smith graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration of Justice, and later received her Master’s Degree in Management from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the State of California Command College, the FBI National Executive Institute and the American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley. She is currently a Master’s candidate at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

On December 15, 1998, Laurie Smith was elected to serve as Santa Clara County’s 28th Sheriff since the Office’s inception in 1850.  The first female Sheriff in California’s history, she has been consistently chosen for re-election through four additional terms to serve Santa Clara County’s 2 million residents.

Laurie Smith has received numerous honors and awards for her public service, and has an outstanding record in the California law enforcement community. She is a past-president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association and is a past Woman of the Year recipient by the California State Assembly.