Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Charles Plummer, former Alameda County sheriff known for creating 'Cardinal Sins' police training guidelines , dies at 87

Former Alameda County Charles Plummer
was first elected in 1986 and served 20 years.
Charles Plummer, who served 20 of his 54 years in law enforcement serving as Alameda County sheriff, passed away Monday. He was 87.

Stern in a paternal way, Plummer appeared to perfectly fit the mold of a mid-20th Century law man. Referring to his first job in law enforcement, serving in the Berkeley Police Department in the 1960s, Plummer remarked at his retirement ceremony that he wished he would have been more firm with protesters at the famed 1969 People's Park riots.

"I wish I would have hit some people harder during the riots," Plummer said in 2007. "I regret that."

Before becoming Alameda County sheriff, Plummer served 10 years as Hayward police chief, starting in 1976. It was during his time that Plummer implemented simple guidelines for police behavior that he termed, "Cardinal Sins." This rules remain a standard in police training.

The rules demanded, "honesty from all employees and prohibited bigotry, the acceptance of bribes, and the use of controlled substance," according to a 2006 commendation in the Congressional Record. "Many officers felt that adherence to these rules helped build a bond of trust between law enforcement and the communities they served."

Elected sheriff in 1986, Plummer tenure began with the opening of the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. He served in the position for 20 years before retiring. He was replaced by current Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern.

“Today we mourn the loss of an American Hero," said Ahern. "Sheriff Plummer was one of the most dedicated and respected law enforcement leaders in our Nation."

Plummer's advocacy, however, continued after leaving the sheriff's office. He remained connected to Alameda County politics, often making appearances before the Board of Supervisors in support and opposition of various issues.

“Charley was strong on law and order and also very passionate about serving the needs of those incarcerated," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. "He touched many lives and had a hand in laying a firm foundation at the Sheriff’s Office that’s still in place today."


  1. A very good guy. Very straight forward. I am glad I got to meet him and call him a friend. Jaime

  2. Too bad Plummer left Hayward Police Department before the summer of '89, when the cops had a stripper up the skybox at the Oakland Coliseum during an A's game. Drinking, accepting gratutities and ogling a stripper. I'd say some sinning went on for sure.

  3. Charlie Plummer was a first class good guy and a decent sheriff. I am very familiar with him, his lovely wife Amanda, and all of his years of service. While I never agreed with him on specific policies he was a fair and honest man with a real paid of honest balls. He was not at all like Sheriff Ahearn, a real scumbag. Charlie was a definite honest and ethical man. His teams were honest and straight. You cannot say that for those who followed him anywhere.

  4. Too bad he was a softie. Not like America's BEST sheriff ever--Honest Joe Arpaio!

  5. I'm personally glad to hear of Plummer's passing. That fucker ruined my life when he fired me back in 2006 when I attempted to go from Sheriff's Technician to Sheriff's Deputy to which I'm still dealing with to this day. May his soul rot in hell. Since his dumb wrinkled up crazy bitch wife Norma passed away in June of last year maybe he can hold a wife swap convention with the devil and his wife. FUCK YOU ALL TO THE ENTIRE PLUMMER FAMILY. You won't get no sympathy from me. I won't shed a tear!!! :-)