Former Riverside County sheriff honored to become namesake of jail he was instrumental in building
At the behest of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley was renamed Tuesday in honor of former Sheriff Cois M. Byrd.
“I appreciate this opportunity,” Byrd told the board. “I thank you so much for the honor.”
Former Riverside County Sheriff Cois M. Byrd, pictured in April 2010, worked 35 years for the Sheriff’s Department and was its leader from 1986 to 1994. (File photo, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Byrd, with his wife, Evelyn, at his side, stood in the board chamber at the County Administrative Center, recounting how the jail came into being on his watch.
The former sheriff said neither the detention center nor the adjacent Southwest Justice Center, comprising courtrooms and offices for the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Public Defender, would have been built without a sale of 52 acres from a longtime landowner.
“It was a dream come true,” said Byrd, who personally negotiated the purchase at below market price.
He recalled his career in the Sheriff’s Department, which spanned 35 years, and acknowledged his father and brother, both of whom were also county employees, working in the then-Riverside County Road Department for 30 and 42 years, respectively.
“Our family has participated and drawn funds for sustenance from Riverside County for many years,” Byrd joked.
The career lawman signed on with the Sheriff’s Department following a three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was sworn in as a deputy on June 22, 1959, and came up through the ranks, in the meantime earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal science and a master’s of public administration.
He was elected to be the county’s 10th sheriff in June 1986 and was re-elected four years later. He was in office when the Southwest Detention Center opened in 1993, and retired on Dec. 24, 1994.
As a sheriff’s captain, […]