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Southwest Detention Center about to be renamed for former Riverside County sheriff

Cois Byrd, when he was Riverside County sheriff, sat in the living room of a landowner and personally negotiated the purchase of 52 acres on which the Southwest Detention Center would be built in French Valley.
Byrd said Alex Borel, a member of one of the old ranch families in the southwest area of the county, sold the land at below-market price because Borel believed that having the county facilities near the French Valley Airport would enhance the value of the property that the family still owned.
Southwest Detention Center in French Valley will be renamed in honor of former Riverside County Sheriff Cois Byrd if county supervisors approve a proposal on July 25, 2017. (File photo, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
The jail, courthouse and sheriff’s station opened in 1993, the year before Byrd retired after two terms as sheriff and 35 years with the department overall.
Now, if the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approves a proposal on Tuesday, July 25, the facility will be renamed for Byrd.
The proposal — which does not affect the nearby courthouse, officially named the Southwest Justice Center — is on the consent calendar, a collection of agenda items often approved all at once without discussion.
“I’m honored, and I really mean that,” Byrd, 80, said Friday from his home near Murrieta.
Byrd said he used to believe that buildings should be named only for those who have died. He has changed his mind as more living people are honored.
“Now that it’s happening and I’m still alive, I’m enjoying the moment,” Byrd said, chuckling.
Larry D. Smith, who was sheriff after Byrd from 1994 to 2002, enjoyed a similar honor. The Banning jail, which opened in the 1920s as a road-gang camp, was renamed for Smith in 2002. Smith died in 2013.
County Supervisor Chuck Washington brought forth the Byrd proposal on Tuesday’s agenda.
Washington wrote that as sheriff, Byrd was concerned about the safety of his deputies and adopted semi-automatic firearms to make sure they weren’t outgunned.
Before that, Byrd was instrumental in providing vocational, rehabilitation and counseling programs to inmates.
“I’ve always been a big fan of his,” Washington said Friday. “He’s a throwback to an era in the county when there were giants in the community, people who spent a lot of time in Riverside County like my colleagues Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione. Cois Byrd was one of those sheriffs who everyone respected and admired.”

If you go
What: Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 25
Where: County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St., Riverside

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