The Sheriffs of Clark County

The Clark County Sheriff's Office was established in 1909 and has been lead by thirteen different sheriffs. The sheriffs have included a professional newspaper editor, a Canadian telegraph operator, an automobile dealership owner, a grocery store owner, a gasoline station owner and many career law enforcement officers. On July 1, 1973, the Clark County Sheriff's Office merged with the Las Vegas Police Department to form the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Sheriff Ralph Lamb remained sheriff, and LV Police Chief John Moran became the undersheriff.

Charles C. Corkhill was appointed as the first sheriff of Clark County on July 3, 1909. The owner and editor of the "Las Vegas Age" newspaper, forerunner of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Corkhill had no law enforcement background. He served for only 18 months before being defeated in his first election by well-known lawman Sam Gay. Corkhill later held the positions of postmaster for Las Vegas and assistant fire chief.

"Big Sam Gay" was born on March 1, 1860 and moved to Las Vegas in 1905. He was a huge, muscular man, weighing 260 pounds. He established a reputation as one of the toughtest lawmen in town who worn no gun while keeping the peace. His first position in Las Vegas was that of night watchman, but he developed rapidly until he became Chief Deputy for Sheriff Charles Corkhill. In 1910, he ran against and defeated Corkhill. He served as Sheriff from 1911 to 1931, except for a short period of time in 1917 when he was temporarily removed from office. In 1911, while still Sheriff, he was appointed as the Police Chief of Las Vegas. He was reported to regularly tie "rowdies" to a hitching post and "hose" them down through the night. The Las Vegas Review Journal in 1926 described Gay as "big and genial, with muscles of steel and courage that never waivers." He passed away at age 72 on August 24, 1932.

W. B. "Will" Mundy was a native of Canada who came to the United States as a young man and became a naturalized citizen. He learned the telegraph operator's trade and traveled throughout the country for several years before settling in Salt Lake City. In 1905, he moved to Las Vegas. He served as the manager of the Western Union and served for a brief period as the Clark County Treasurer. Mundy was appointed as Clark County Sheriff on October 6, 1917 when Sam Gay was removed from office. He had no law enforcement experience and served for approximately four weeks. He was reported to have said that stated that the job was "too hazardous," resigned and returned to his position with Western Union. Mundy also served as a Las Vegas City Commissioner for approximately ten years. He passed away on September 22, 1949, at the age of 79.

Jay Warren Woodard was born in Chicago and moved to Las Vegas in approximately 1911. He became the first agent for the Ford Motor Company in Las Vegas and is reported to have driven the first automobile to Mt. Charleston. During World War I, he sold his Las Vegas business interests and move to Texas to seek his fortune in the oil industry. He returned to Las Vegas after a few years and opened a Chevrolet dealership. In November of 1917, he was appointed as Clark County Sheriff when Mundy resigned. He held that position for a short period before popular Sam Gay was returned to office. Woodard returned to his business and later built and operated the Downtown Hotel located at 301 Main Street. He passed away on September 10, 1944 at the age of 70.

Joe Keate was born on August 22, 1880, in St George, Utah. He moved to Las Vegas as a young man and joined the Sheriff's Office. Keate worked as undersheriff for a period of time and later joined the Las Vegas Police Department. He was elected sheriff in November of 1930 and served until 1936. This was the time when Hoover Dam was being contructed. Upon his retirement, he served for many years as a special investigator for various downtown casinos. Keate passed away in August of 1948, at the age of 68.

William Ezra "Bill" Mott was born on September 4, 1883, in Park City, Utah. He made his home there and in Silver City, Utah until 1921, when he moved to Las Vegas. He worked at the Union Pacific Railroad and later at the Pacific Fruit Express Company. In 1931, he was appointed undersheriff by Sheriff Joe Keate for the Clark County Sheriff's Office and served in that capacity for almost six years. When Sheriff Joe Keate left office, Mott was appointed in his place and served as Sheriff until being defeated by Gene Ward by only 6 votes in 1937. After Ward took office, Mott served as a detective until his death on April 9, 1938.

Gene Ward was born on February 28, 1888, in Morenci, Michigan. He moved to Las Vegas in 1918, and opened the first of three food markets. He was a familiar sight in the small town, walking from home to home delivering grocery orders. At one time, he had three trucks delivering groceries to the community. He was one of the most prominent merchants in early Las Vegas. He served as Clark County Sheriff from 1937 to 1943, and later as Justice of the Peace. Ward also founded the famed Helldorado Parade. In his later years, he purchased property in Pittman and operated a casino there for many years. He passed away at age 76.

Glen C. Jones was born on July 15, 1910, in Overton, Nevada and moved to Las Vegas in 1929. He began his law enforcement career in 1935 with the Clark County Sheriff's Office. He worked his way through the ranks and eventually served as undersheriff to Sheriff Gene Ward. He was elected sheriff in 1942 and served for three terms before being defeated in 1954 by Butch Leypoldt. Jones was the founder of the Sheriff's Posse and the Aero Squadron. He passed away in September of 1983, at the age of 73.

W. E. "Butch" Leypoldt was born on June 12, 1914, in Omaha, Nebraska. Leypoldt moved to Las Vegas in 1938 with his two brothers to operate a pair of gasoline stations. His career in law enforcement began in 1941 when he joined the Las Vegas Police Department. He fought in World War II, and, upon his return, he joined the Clark County Sheriff's Office. He ran for sheriff in 1954 against incumbent Glen Jones and won. He was re-relected to a second term but left when Governor Grant Sawyer appointed him to the Gaming Control Board. He passed away on May 29, 1990, at the age of 75.

Ralph Lamb was born on April 10, 1927, in Alamo, Nevada. Ralph, one of eleven children, went straight from high school to the Army to serve in the last year of World War II. Following his discharge, he moved to Henderson to rejoin his family. He was hired by the Clark County Sheriff's Office in August of 1948. Lamb resigned from the Department in 1955 to operate a private detective agency for approximately six years. His main client was Howard Hughes who required that all communications be made through a pay phone. Lamb returned to law enforcement in 1961 when he was appointed sheriff to fill the unfinished term of Butch Leypoldt. He served as the sheriff through the consolidation with the Las Vegas Police Department and until being defeated in 1978 by his Narcotics Commander, John McCarthy.

John McCarthy was born on March 4, 1934, in Union City, New Jersey. He enlisted in the Marines in 1953, and was honorably discharged in 1956. McCarthy was hired as an officer by the Las Vegas Police Department in September of that year. He served in a number of assignments in his career and rose through the ranks to Commander in 1975. In November of 1978, he defeated long-time incumbent Sheriff Ralph Lamb. He had four very difficult years as sheriff and was defeated in his first attempt at re-election by his fired undersheriff, John Moran.

John Moran was born on September 22, 1922, in San Fernando, California. He attended the University of Arizona on an athletic scholarship and became one of the nation's top javelin throwers. A Marine Corp veteran with a battle-field commission, he moved to Las Vegas in 1947, joining the Las Vegas Police Department. He rose through the ranks to Chief of Police in 1972. Upon consolidation with the Clark County Sheriff's Office in July of 1973, he became the undersheriff of the newly formed Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Moran was elected Sheriff in 1982 and served for three terms before retiring. He is responsible for bringing 9-1-1 to Las Vegas and for molding the police department into the 112th agency in the country to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). He concluded his distinguished 43-year career in local law enforcement in December of 1994. He passed away on June 22, 1998, at the age of 75.

Jerry Keller was born on November 24, 1946. He is a life-long resident of Las Vegas and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He began his law enforcement career in September of 1969, when he was hired as a deputy sheriff with the Clark County Sheriff's Office. Keller rose quickly through the ranks until being elected Sheriff in November of 1994. He is credited with developing the Police Employee's Assistance Program (PEAP) and implementing the first Bicycle Patrol. He added hundreds of police officers to the force and built three new neighborhood police stations along with a new Police Training Center, Communications Center, Fingerprint and Fleet facilities during a period of unheralded growth. Keller was the fourth Sheriff to lead the LVMPD since consolidation and was a strong leader in the Department, County, State and Nation. He served for two terms and chose to retire after 33 years of service to his community and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Born in Yerington, Bill Young is a fourth-generation Nevadan. As a small child, his family moved to Las Vegas where he graduated from Bishop Gorman High School in 1974. He began his career with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a Patrol Officer in 1979. In 1984 he was promoted to sergeant and his assignments included Patrol, Field Training, and SWAT. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1986 and served in Patrol, as Operations Manager of the Communications Center, and in Vice/Narcotics. In 1995, he was promoted to captain and commanded the Support Services Bureau, overseeing the Resident Officer Program, K-9, Air Support, and Search and Rescue. He was promoted to deputy chief in January 1999 and assigned to the Detention Services Division. He took over as the Deputy Chief for Special Operations Division in February 2001. Bill was elected Sheriff in November of 2002, and took office on January 6, 2003. He is the current Clark County Sheriff.

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