October 11, 2003 by

Charles Byrd

1 comment

Categories: Law

Charles Edward Byrd, the first elected black sheriff in California, died on Sept. 23. Cause of death was not released. He was 56.
Byrd was born and raised in Weed, Calif. He attended the College of the Siskiyous with hopes of becoming a civil engineer, but his plans changed when the chief of the Weed Police Department asked him to become a reserve officer. Byrd switched his major to criminal justice and joined the force two years later. In 1975, he became the town’s police chief.
At 39, Byrd defeated Kenneth Jourdan in the sheriff’s race, and became the first African American ever elected sheriff in California. He served four terms as the sheriff-coroner of Siskiyou County, which at the time of his election was only 1.5 percent black.
During his tenure, Byrd helped create the Siskiyou County Inter-Agency Narcotic Task Force, the Detective Unit and the department’s K-9 program. He also served as the president of the California State Sheriff’s Association.

One Response to Charles Byrd

  1. Lee Worth

    Charlie was a regular guy in addition to being a true law enforcement professional. He had a good heart and he will be sorely missed. Siskiyou county and all who knew him are much richer for his time here. Rest in Peace Charlie.

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