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Meet the Sheriff

The Sheriff is an elected position and serves as the chief of law enforcement of the county.

Portrait photo of Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell.

Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell

Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell is proud to serve as the first female sheriff, and the 41st, of Multnomah County. She started her public safety career at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in 1996, as a corrections deputy, after graduating from the University of Portland with a degree in criminal justice. During her career, Morrisey O’Donnell served in many capacities from deputy to undersheriff, and she is one of a few active public safety professionals who holds a dual certification in police and corrections disciplines from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards.

Morrisey O’Donnell’s priorities include reducing gun violence through data-driven strategies by building bridges with communities most impacted, investing in alternative service models that provide better resources for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders, increase accountability for those who impact community safety, and invest in sustainable recruiting and retention strategies to promote long-term agency growth and health of our employees. Morrisey O’Donnell is deeply dedicated to building trust through open, honest community engagement and public service.

Sheriff Morrisey O’Donnell’s post-graduate training includes the Oregon Executive Development Institute and Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Command College and holds an executive level certification from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Outside of work, Morrisey O’Donnell enjoys running, playing golf, spending time with family, and supporting the non-profit Special Olympics of Oregon. She lives in Portland with her husband, Bob, who is a retired Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy.

Agency history

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office was founded in 1854, after the Multnomah County was established in the Oregon Territory. Five years later, in 1859, Oregon was recognized as the 33rd state. William McMillen served as the county’s first sheriff.


In 1866, the first courthouse was built. Expanding county business required the addition of a south wing in 1889. In 1914, a new courthouse was completed at the same location and was in use for the following 107 years. Due to structural issues, Multnomah County replaced the century-old courthouse with a state-of-the-art facility in 2021, known as the Multnomah County Central Courthouse, located in the southwest waterfront. The Sheriff’s Office Facility Security Unit, a team of unarmed, uniformed staff provide security, respond to emergency calls and alarms at the courthouse.


The Rocky Butte Jail began operations in 1942, serving as the primary county jail in Multnomah County, with a courtyard and recreation field. The jail housed approximately 320 adults in custody. In 1983, Rocky Butte Jail was demolished to make way for the construction of Interstate-205. The Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) was built in downtown Portland and replaced the Rocky Butte Jail.

Occupying a portion of the multi-purpose Justice Center building in downtown Portland, MCDC is a 448 bed, maximum security correctional facility for county adults in custody, as well as, state and federal prisoners involved in court matters. MCDC also serves as the initial booking center for all arrestees in Multnomah County.

Built in Northeast Portland in 1990, and later expanded in 1997, the Multnomah County Inverness Jail (MCIJ) serves as a 1,037 bed, medium security jail for adults in custody in Multnomah County.

Law Enforcement

In 1960, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office created the River Patrol Unit. The unit has grown to be the largest river patrol division in the state, responsible for responding to calls for service and investigating crimes on 110 miles of waterways, including the Columbia, Willamette and Sandy Rivers.

Due to incorporation of new cities within Multnomah County and the annexation of many communities in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Sheriff’s Office patrol area was greatly diminished. Despite having provided law enforcement for the bulk of the county's population in the early 20th century, the Sheriff’s Office was considering ending law enforcement services by 2010. 

Five years later, the Sheriff’s Office expanded law enforcement services. In July 2015, the Troutdale Police Department consolidated with MCSO. In the agreement, the officers and civilian personnel of the Troutdale Police Department were brought in as sworn deputies and employees of the Sheriff's Office. The agreement also included the leasing of the Troutdale Police Community Center. The Law Enforcement patrol, property, and records divisions were also moved from the Hansen Building to this location.

In July 2017, the Fairview Police Department also consolidated with MCSO. Similar to the agreement between Troutdale and MCSO, officers and civilian personnel were brought in as employees of the Sheriff’s Office.

The public safety contracts ensured that the cities of Troutdale and Fairview received law enforcement services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and following the consolidations, the total number of contracted cities was brought to four: Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village and Maywood Park.

In 2021, the Sheriff’s Office expanded its Law Enforcement Division to include the Transit Police Division, which provides police services to the metropolitan public transportation system operated by TriMet. 

In addition to general enforcement services, the Sheriff’s Office provides these law enforcement services: civil enforcement, civil processing, investigations, search and rescue, dive rescue and recovery, homeless outreach services, air support, K9, special weapons and tactics, rapid response team, river patrol and patrol.

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Sheriffs of Multnomah County

Since 1854, forty-one sheriffs have served Multnomah County:

William L. McMillen, 1854–1858

Addison M. Starr, 1858–1862

Robert I. Ladd, 1862–1864

Jacob Stitzel, 1864–1868

Al Zieber, 1968 –1870

Cincinnati Bills, 1870 –1871

George V. James, 1871 –1872

I.M. Claywood, 1872 –1874

E.I. Jeffery, 1874 –1878

Ben L. Norden, 1878 –1880

Joseph Buchtel, 1880 –1882

George C. Sears, 1882–1884

Tom Jordan, 1884 –1888

Penumbra Kelly, 1888–1894

George C. Sears, 1894–1896

William Frazier, 1896–1902

William A. Storey, 1902–1904

Tom Word, 1904–1906

Robert L. Stevens, 1906–1913

Tom Word, 1913–1915

Thomas M. Hurlburt, 1915–1931

Martin T. Pratt, 1931–1949

Marion Leroy Elliot, 1949

Terry D. Schrunk, 1949–1956

William F. Lambert, 1957–1963

Donald E. Clark, 1963–1967

Byron H. Shields, 1967

James C. Holzman, 1967–1970

Bard Purcell, 1970–1974

Louis Rinehart, 1974–1975

Lee Brown, 1975–1976

Edgar E. Martin, 1976–1982

Frederic B. Pearce, 1982–1989

Robert Skipper, 1989–1994

John Bunnell, 1994–1995

Dan Noelle, 1995–2002

Bernie Giusto, 2003–2007

Robert Skipper, 2007–2009

Daniel Staton, 2009–2016

Michael Reese, 2016–2022

Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell, 2023-present