Sheriff Stan Sniff appointed Captain Shelley Kennedy-Smith to the rank of Chief Deputy this afternoon, January 28, 2014, filling a vacancy caused by the upcoming retirement of Chief Deputy Mitch Alm. She will start her new assignment in April as the Chief Deputy overseeing the Central Field Operations (Cabazon, Hemet, Southwest, and Lake Elsinore Stations, Gang Task Force, and SERT) of the Sheriff’s Department. Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith has over 28 years of law enforcement experience, all with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Chief Deputies in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department are at-will employees of the Sheriff and oversee various divisions within that agency (patrol, courts, coroner, administrative functions, and corrections). Their primary responsibility is to oversee personnel matters, personnel investigations and disciplines up to and including terminations, tactical issues, promotions and transfers, and arbitrations. Their typical spans of control range from 300 personnel to over a 1,000, depending on the assignment.
Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith began her law enforcement career in 1986 when she joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Upon completion of the Basic Academy, she was assigned to the Riverside Jail and later the Lake Elsinore Station, Sheriff’s Court Services and the Southwest Detention Center. She was promoted to the rank of Investigator in 1999 and was assigned to the Lake Elsinore Station once again, where she handled all types of investigations and was designated as the station’s Elder Abuse Detective. In 2000, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith was promoted to Sergeant and returned to the Southwest Detention Center. As a Sergeant, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith was later transferred to the Media Information Bureau and served as the Department’s Public Information Officer (PIO) from 2001 to 2004.
In 2004, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and placed in charge of the Sheriff’s Personnel Bureau, where she saw oversaw recruiting and new hiring of personnel. In 2008, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith returned to the Lake Elsinore Station where she served assignments as Patrol Lieutenant, Administrative Lieutenant responsible for the station’s budget, and as the contract city Lieutenant for the cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar. During this period, she was also assigned oversight of the Detective Bureau, the Special Teams Unit, and Lake Operations.
In 2010, Sheriff Sniff promoted Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith to the rank of Captain where she was placed in charge of the Sheriff’s countywide Court Services Division. In 2012, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith was transferred to command the Lake Elsinore Station, which provides service to 270 square miles of Riverside County, serving and protecting more than 135,000 residents. The Lake Elsinore station serves the Cities of Lake Elsinore, and Wildomar, and the unincorporated areas of Alberhill, El Cariso, Glen Eden, Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Good Hope, La Cresta, Lakeland Village, Meadowbrook, Ortega Hills, Temescal Canyon, and Warm Springs. In this assignment, she also served as the Police Chief for the Cities of Wildomar and Lake Elsinore.
Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith completed a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2012. In 2013, she received the NAACP 2013 Spingard Medal for Career Achievement, and she currently serves on the “COPS 4 Kids” Board, and HOPE (Healing Outreach Prevention Education), and she founded the Lake Elsinore Station’s Cops and Clergy program.
Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith and her husband, Melvin, live in Murrieta and have two adult sons, and three grandchildren.
Of particular historic note, Chief Deputy Kennedy-Smith is the seventh woman, but also the first African-American woman to be appointed to the rank of Chief Deputy in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, in its 121 year history. Chief Deputy Shelley Kennedy-Smith is now the third African-American to serve in its executive ranks in the Department’s history, following in the footsteps of retired Chief Deputy Oliver Thompson, appointed by then-Sheriff Cois Byrd in 1986, and retired Chief Deputy Boris Robinson, appointed by Sheriff Stan Sniff in 2009.
The previous women who served in the Riverside County Sheriff’s executive ranks since 1893:
1. Chief Deputy (Ret) Susan Hansen (appointed by Sheriff Larry Smith in 1995)
2. Chief Deputy (Ret) Charlotte Boytor (appointed by Sheriff Larry Smith in 1995)
3. Chief Deputy (Ret) Janice Duke (appointed by Sheriff Larry Smith in 1995)
4. Undersheriff (Ret) Valerie Hill (appointed by Sheriff Stan Sniff in 2007)
5. Undersheriff Colleen Walker (appointed by Sheriff Stan Sniff in 2010)
6. Chief Deputy Patricia Ortiz Knudson (appointed by Sheriff Stan Sniff in 2013)