History of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office


The origins of the County Sheriff’s Office are traced to ninth-century England where the sheriff served as a representative of the Crown in local government.  Historically, a sheriff was a legal official with responsibility for a “shire” or county. The word “sheriff” originates from the term “shire reeve,” an official responsible for keeping the peace on behalf of the king. Over the many centuries the office of sheriff has evolved.

When the English began colonizing the east coast of North America in the seventeenth century the office of the sheriff became a standard feature of the English colonial judiciary – serving the process of county and district courts, maintaining the peace, keeping the jail, and collecting taxes.  With the establishment of the American Republic, the sheriff remained an essential component of the government structure.  With the creation of the American Northwest Territory in 1787, through the conquest of the US Army of the West in the Mexican Cession in 1846, the establishment of the sheriff continued by the United States.

When U.S. General Stephen Watts Kearney occupied Santa Fe, New Mexico in August 1846, which was still Mexico, he proclaimed a code of laws under his authority that included a proviso for sheriffs and other local officials common to Anglo-American county government. Kearney divided the settled portion of New Mexico into judicial circuits, which became the first seven counties of the first sheriffs of New Mexico. These counties were clustered along the upper Rio Grande, their boundaries were not clearly defined but they included a northern circuit, a central circuit and a southeastern circuit.  Santa Fe, in the northern circuit, was one of the original seven New Mexico counties where sheriffs were established by Kearney for the Americans.

Santa Fe County’s first sheriff was Francis “Frank” Redman appointed by Governor Charles Bent in 1846, as the American occupiers attempted to take control of Mexican territories.  Under the Kearney Code guidelines provided that sheriff’s would receive a $200 annual salary (plus a percentage of fees collected) and be provided office space.  New Mexico’s first sheriffs served warrants, subpoenas, and other writs of probate within their counties.  In addition they conserved the peace by “suppressing assaults and batteries”  and they were also charged with the “custody and rule” of their jails.  Initially, sheriffs would serve two year terms.

In modern times, the specific combination of legal, political and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies across states and counties (in Louisiana they are called “parishes” and in Alaska “boroughs”.  The sheriff is most often an elected county official who serves as the law enforcement structure of the county.

Today, the Santa Fe County sheriff is able to serve two elected consecutive four year terms.  The current sheriff is Robert A. Garcia.  Sheriff Garcia is currently serving his second consecutive term in office.  He oversees an agency of 100 commissioned deputies and civilian staff. The sheriff enforces court orders and mandates. The sheriff’s duties may include such functions as performing evictions, seizing property and assets pursuant to court orders, and serving warrants and legal papers.  Beyond the traditional historic duties of the sheriff, todays Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also has a criminal investigations division, provides mandated security services for the Santa Fe County Courthouse, and has an animal control division, a community support services division, warrants and narcotics division and a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

NM Lawman

Eddie Armijo, Santa Fe County Sheriff 1908-84


Below is a list of Santa Fe County Sheriffs:

1846 – 47      Francis (Frank) Redman

1847 – 48      Ennis J. Vaughn

1848 – 49       Richard Campbell

1849 – 50       Charles H. Merritt

1851               John G. Jones

1851               Nicholas Quintana Rosas

1851 – 53       Richard M. Stephens

1853 – 54      Lorenzo Labadie

1854 – 57      Jesus Maria Baca y Salazar

1857 – 61      Jesus Maria Sena y Baca

1861 – 62      Antonio Ortiz y Salazar

1862 – 64      Juan Moya

1865 – 66      Jose E. Duran

1866 – 70      Joe D. Sena

1870 – 76      Charles (Carlos) M. Conklin

1877 – 78      Martin Quintana

1879 – 80      Jose D. Sena

1881 – 85      Romulo Martinez

1886 – 91      Francisco (Frank) Chavez

1891 – 93      Charles (Carlos) M. Conklin

1893 – 96      William P. Cunningham

1897 – 1900 Harry D. Kinsell

1901 – 02      Marcelino Garcia

1903 – 04      Harry D. Kinsell

1905 – 06      Antonio J. Ortiz

1907 – 16      Charles C. Closson

1916 – 18      Celso Lopez

1918 – 20      George W. Armijo

1920 – 22      John Shoemaker

1922 – 24      Tomas Delgado

1924 – 28      Isaias Alarid

1928 – 32      Romulo Lopez

1932 – 34      Jesus M. Baca

1934 – 36      Romulo Lopez

1936 – 40      Biberto Quintana

1940 – 44      Tom P. Delgado

1944 – 46      Pablo Sena

1946 – 50      Florentino Ortiz

1950 – 52      Antonio Padilla

1952 – 54      Manuel Sena

1954 – 58      Henry Ortiz

1952 – 62      Manuel V. Ortiz

1962 – 66      Perez Roybal

1966 – 70      Eduardo D. Escudero

1970 – 74      Arthur F. Garcia

1974 – 76      Paul Baca

1976 – 80      Eduardo D. Escudero

1980 – 84      Eddie Armijo

1985 – 88      Elias Valdez

1989 – 98      Benjie Montano

1999 – 2002 Raymond Sisneros

2003 – 2010 Greg L. Solano

2010 – 2018 Robert A. Garcia

Santa Fe County Sheriff archive photo