Sheriff Sandra Hutchens (1955-2021)
Sandra Hutchens was the 12th Orange County Sheriff and the first to be selected by the Board of Supervisors to serve out the term of a sheriff who retired. She was selected from a field of 48 candidates after a nationwide search.
Sheriff Hutchens was born in Monterey Park and raised in Long Beach, where she graduated from Woodrow Wilson High. Shortly after graduating from high school she was hired as a secretary for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where she met some Deputies who convinced her to apply for a Deputy position. After graduating from the Basic Training Academy, she was sworn in 1978. Deputy Hutchens was first assigned to the Sybil Brand Institute, a women’s jail, and subsequently to the Lynwood Station and the Metropolitan Bureau. She promoted to Sergeant in 1986 and returned to Sybil Brand and then Temple Station, Field Operations Region I Headquarters and the Office of the Undersheriff.
In 1994 she promoted to Lieutenant and, once again, she was assigned to Sybil Brand. After her tour at Sybil Brand she worked as Watch Commander and Operations Lieutenant at the Norwalk Station. She promoted to Captain in 1999 and was named Commander of the Norwalk Station.
Her next promotion was to Commander in 2001 and she was placed in command of Field Operations Region II and as Sheriff Lee Baca’s Executive Assistant. Sheriff Baca named her Chief of the Office of Homeland Security in July 2003. Chief Hutchens became involved with all aspects of local homeland security for the County of Los Angeles and commissioner on the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission. She commanded more than 1,000 personnel and supervised police service contracts for 40 cities. Her units included Aero Bureau, SWAT, K-9, mountain search and rescue and the Transit Service Bureau, which polices MTA and Metrolink.
Chief Hutchens was also involved in the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Program, responsible for coordinating crime prevention, Town Hall meetings, and community relations. She was an instrumental leader in the development of the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, a convergence of the Department of Homeland Security, Los Angeles County Sheriff, LAPD and the FBI. This created a much needed central repository for intelligence information.
Her career at LASD also included serving as Legislative Liaison in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. She developed cross-cultural and community relations skills; and a diverse education, including counterterrorism training in Israel, FBI National Academy training, participation in the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Program at Harvard University, and Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne.
Sheriff Hutchens passed in 2021 after a long fought battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, Larry, a retired assistant police chief for the Los Angeles Unified School District and their dog, Tucker. She will be sorely missed.