- Department History
More than 150 years ago, the first gathering of the California legislature divided the state into 27 counties. The first legislative session was held from December 15, 1849, to April 22, 1850. On February 18, 1850, the first 27 counties were named. The official name of Colusi County went on record and, in 1856, the spelling was changed to Colusa. View more about Colusa County's history.
The town site laid out around the Monroe House, called Monroeville. Monroeville, at that time, was located in Glenn County. Colusi and Glenn County were both part of the Tehama County territory. The Monroe House became the first county seat upon the organization of Colusi County. In addition to serving as the center of county government, it also served as a saloon, store, hotel, and post office. The first structure of any kind owned by the county was the gallows erected at Monroeville for a hanging. In November of 1853, the county seat was moved to the Town of Colusi.
Beginning of Law Enforcement
The history of law enforcement in Colusa County dates back to the Monroe House and John F. Willis, the first appointed sheriff for Colusi County on February 18, 1851. During this time, the county had its first legal execution, a hanging from the gallows on April 24, 1852, at the Monroe House.
In 1854, the first official jail and courtroom was built on Market Street in Colusa. It was 20' by 30', had two stories, and was a wooden structure built near our current hall of records and superior courthouse, which was constructed in 1861.
The New Jail
The jail was replaced in 1878, when a new two-story jail building was constructed about 20 feet west of the courthouse. Prisoners were escorted from the jail to the courthouse on a cat-walk connecting the two buildings. Prisoners called it the "Bridge of Sighs." The jail served the community from 1878 through 1962. It was partly destroyed by fire, and the 84-year old building was then replaced.
In 1962, a new sheriff's office and jail was constructed at its current location on Bridge Street. During the past 20 years, renovations have been completed three times in order to keep up with changing times.
The two-story wooden structure has changed into a 26,000-square-foot concrete building that employs 75 staff members and 93 volunteer members, and a maximum security jail facility that can house 92 prisoners.