Make San Diego the safest and most resilient community in the nation, where youth are protected and the criminal justice system is balanced between accountability and rehabilitation.

Helping Troubled Youth

The San Diego community focuses intensely on helping kids succeed, now and into the future.  Youth crime continues to drop in the county, as part of a five-year trend that has seen youth arrests plunge by 50 percent. However, some young people will head down the wrong path every year, so we invested significantly in tried and true, and innovative ways to help kids stay out of juvenile hall.


We continue to focus on diversion efforts and the Alternatives to Detention program to help kids who commit low-level crimes get the help they need. These programs link kids with case managers who dig into the root of the issue. Tailored programs help teens work through challenges to find better solutions. The overwhelming majority of young people served remained arrest-free throughout the program.


Teens repeatedly arrested often struggle with gang involvement, strife and poverty at home, and mental health problems or addiction.  This last year, we expanded the juvenile mental health court program in which clinicians work with youth, the court, Probation and the Public Defender to make sure the teen gets mental health help and other needed services. We also expanded our treatment program services to connect youth and families with the best-proven therapies.


The County is also drawing on national models to develop a new mentoring program that will pair youths on probation with mentors from the same neighborhood and background. These mentors will help guide these youth to success.


Increased family involvement can also help youth in custody. For the first time, many families joined their children at juvenile hall for two holiday meals, in a new tradition the Probation Department plans to continue and expand.


youth were diverted from juvenile hall by the Alternatives to Detention program.


of the youth participants in the Alternatives to Detention program remained arrest-free throughout the program.


juveniles were helped by the Public Defender to clear their records so they could get an education and jobs.


of juvenile clients completed probation without a new sustained law violation.

I thought that I was alone in my situation, but coming here showed me that I never had to feel alone.”


- Leslie C./Camp LEAD Student

Building and Maintaining the Community’s Trust

How can we continue to build trust between law enforcement and our communities? By forming and maintaining strong relationships, working with residents on solutions and responding to their needs and expectations.


The public expects fairness and professionalism from law enforcement, and wearing body-worn cameras can bolster confidence. Deputies began testing body-worn cameras in February 2016 as part of its ongoing dedication to transparency and with the goal of forging greater trust. The body-worn camera program began in August 2017.


The Sheriff’s Department also worked to expand the Camp LEAD program (Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity) into new parts of the county. The overnight camp fosters leadership skills and improves understanding and respect between students and law enforcement. Sheriff’s deputies wear plainclothes and act as camp counselors. The campers come to trust the deputies while working together through problems the teens may be having in their everyday lives. On the last day of camp, the deputies surprise the campers by donning their uniforms. The students gain a new respect for law enforcement, and the deputies gain a valuable perspective on the lives of kids they are protecting every day.


Through the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s partnership with the National Conflict Resolution Center, the County also expanded the Avoiding the Pipeline to Prison program. The goal is to help troubled youth develop more productive and positive lives, through a practice called restorative community conferencing. Community members and crime victims meet with these youths to decide how they can repair the harm they caused and how they can avoid further involvement in the criminal justice system.



students participated in five Camp LEAD camps.


million state grant in additional victim services implemented by the District Attorney’s Office.


inmates in the Defense Transition Unit connected to mental health services as part of their release plan.



average number of jail inmates housed each day.

Helping PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS stay out of Jail

The Sheriff’s jails are currently the county’s largest mental health services provider. San Diego County isn’t alone in this situation. Across the country, about


2 million people with serious mental illness are admitted to jails each year. Of those, about three-quarters of them have substance abuse disorders.

The County joined “Stepping Up,” a national initiative aimed at reducing the number of adult inmates diagnosed with mental illness. Stepping Up is also working on ways to shorten the lengths of these inmates’ jail stays, increase their connections to services, and lower the rate at which they return to jail.


The San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Health and Human Services Agency and other County partners also developed a new alternate custody program for inmates with mental health issues who may benefit more from a tailored, community-based program than treatment behind bars. The program, called PROGRESS, includes mental health assessment and treatment, substance abuse treatment, help finding stable housing and links to continuing treatment.


For those in jail suffering from severe mental illness, two new transition programs  focus on making sure inmates receive appropriate services and housing after leaving custody. In addition, the Public Defender’s new Defense Transition Unit helps clients transition from custody to mental health service providers. At times, the unit also requests mental health treatment in the community for its clients as part of the proposed sentence.


A new, $6 million state grant may soon help San Diego County reduce the number of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders from cycling in and out of the justice system. As grant recipients, the County and City of San Diego will provide services to people who are charged with misdemeanor drug and property crimes. The goal is to connect individuals to treatment and support to improve wellness and public safety.

On an average day, about 30 percent of  local jail inmates are treated for mental illness and many also struggle with substance abuse.

$406 million

invested in wildland fire response since 2003 wildfires

Up to 40 aircraft and 50 engines in the region can respond to wildland fires.


San Diego County has more firefighting air resources available than any other county

in the nation.

Ready – Just in Case

The County of San Diego helps the region prepare for and respond to disasters. As the primary local government to more than half a million residents in unincorporated areas, the County is also the “boots on the ground” in emergencies.


Case in point – after years of relentless drought, this past winter brought soaking rains that were both welcome and troublesome. Multiple storms dumped record rain, and high winds brought rocks, debris, trees and utility lines down onto the roads. The Department of Public Works quickly transitioned from its day-to-day operations into around-the-clock work and cleared roads and drainage systems. At the storms’ peak, 38 roads in the County service area closed, but not for long. County crews re-opened most public roads within 24 hours. The few roads that remained closed were blocked by debris or awaited utility repairs. In some cases, roads and flood control channels were significantly damaged, but Public Works staff swiftly completed 12 emergency projects to keep roads and flood control facilities open and the public safe.


San Diego County was included in a state emergency declaration, and the federal government granted the state’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration. These declarations mean the County will receive state and federal reimbursements to help cover the cost of the storms’ impact.


Storms are just one type of event for which we prepare. In June, the County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) worked with dozens of federal, state and local first responder agencies to conduct Coastal Warrior 2017, a drill based on a hypothetical complex terrorist attack. OES also helped residents understand how emergencies could affect them, including tsunamis, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires, by developing a  new interactive online map called “Know Your Hazards.”


The Emergency Management Accreditation Program once again evaluated OES for excellence. County OES remains one of the only departments of its kind in the western United States to achieve this accreditation.


The Insurance Service Office (ISO) assessed the County Fire Authority for the first time since its formation in 2008. The ISO rated the department in the top 10 percent nationally. As a result of this rating, the County mailed letters to 9,297 residents in winter 2016 advising them that they may qualify for lower insurance premiums.


The Fire Authority also added paramedic-level firefighters to five rural stations. Now 15 out of 18 fire stations are staffed with a paramedic. The remaining stations are staffed with volunteer reserve firefighters and backed up by paramedic-level career firefighters at nearby stations.


Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) and Public Health worked hard to prevent the threat of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and West Nile virus. Last fiscal year, there were 82 cases of travel-related Zika. Vector Control used backpack applicators to spray 10 neighborhoods to kill invasive Aedes mosquitoes to keep them from potentially spreading the Zika virus. DEH also dropped larvicide on local waterways once a month during mosquito season to prevent West Nile virus and protect the public.




1600 Pacific Highway

San Diego, CA 92101

© Copyright 2017 San Diego County