Kelly Martinez begins new term as San Diego County Sheriff

Sheriff Kelly Martinez begins her term to lead the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Photo: San Diego Sheriff’s Office

By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–Kelly Martinez is officially the new sheriff of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

On Monday at noon, Martinez began her term as sheriff after she took the formal oath on December 16 as the 31st sheriff.

A ceremonial swearing-in event will take place on January 9 where she will take her oath of office before the public.

“I am honored to have been elected as the next Sheriff of San Diego County,” said Martinez, a San Diego native. “There is no greater responsibility than to be entrusted with the safety of the public. I am committed to fulfilling that obligation and I am grateful for the opportunity. I will continue to carry out my promise to improve San Diego jails, hire and retain staff and keep our communities safe.”

Sheriff Martinez has served the residents of San Diego County with the Sheriff’s Department since 1985. She began her career as a deputy working in county jails. Her first patrol assignment was in the community of Fallbrook. She was an investigator and worked several assignments, including drug and gang enforcement in North County and the Criminal Intelligence Detail.

During her time as a sergeant, Martinez supervised a patrol team in the City of San Marcos before being selected to supervise investigators in the Criminal Intelligence Detail. Her next assignment was to investigate employee misconduct in the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit before being promoted to lieutenant. Martinez served the cities of Encinitas, Del Mar, and Solana Beach, as well as the communities of Rancho Santa Fe and Valley Center. As a lieutenant, she also oversaw the Sheriff’s Department’s participation in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task Force.

As a captain, Martinez served the community of Alpine and the rural areas of San Diego County. She was later promoted to commander and led the Sheriff’s Investigation Units. Martinez’s appointment to Assistant Sheriff put her in charge of the Law Enforcement Services Bureau, which encompasses the Sheriff’s patrol operations, investigative units, Regional Crime Laboratory, Communications Center, and Emergency Services Division. 

In 2021, Martinez was appointed as the Undersheriff and in that capacity, she was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Department.

As Sheriff, Martinez will lead a department that is responsible for providing law enforcement services to 4,200 square miles of unincorporated San Diego County, nine contract cities, seven jails, and security for the courthouses. She is responsible for the Sheriff’s Department’s $1.165 billion budget and more than 4,700 authorized employees.

Martinez has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration. She holds multiple Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificates including a basic, advanced, supervisory, and management POST. Sheriff Martinez is also a graduate of the POST Command College. She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the San Diego Police Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association, as well as a lifetime member of the California State Sheriff’s Association. 



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