Dateline Palominas, Arizona, January 27, 2014. Here in Cochise County, Mark Dannels is still a relatively new Sheriff–elected in 2012–but he’s already doing impressive work with his ranch advisory team and countless other upgrades and innovations to the Sheriff’s office.
His predecessor, the late (and definitely great) Larry Dever, is a law enforcement icon. Losing him was tough on a lot of us. Fortunately, from what we heard tonight when Dannels spoke at our Palominas Tea Party Potluck, it’s clear that we have “another good one” in place, up and running hard.
I filmed most of Mark’s talk this evening, breaking it up into videos averaging six minutes (give or take) in length. There are a lot of those videos, though, and every one is worth publishing. Since our readers are not likely to hang out for more than an hour’s worth of video watching at a single sitting, it seemed best to “pick one”, discuss and publish that, and then add the others over time, each anchoring its own page.
The first vid to see daylight? For this transplanted Montana cowboy, it was an easy choice. Sheriff Dannels spoke about the ranch advisory team the Department has put in place. Two deputies with strong ranching backgrounds of their own have been assigned to work closely with ranchers who call the Sheriff’s Department with either intel or requests for assistance. We’re a border county, illegal immigrants including armed drug smugglers from Mexico cross ranch properties regularly, and every rancher in the county (but especially any whose ranch unwillingly hosts a known drug smuggling corridor) is definitely at risk.
We all know that, of course, especially since the assassination of Robert Krentz in 2010. In case you’re new to this site and a stranger to Arizona, here’s a quote from Wikipedia:
Robert N. Krentz Jr. (1951 – March 27, 2010) was a prominent rancher in the U.S. state of Arizona. Active in a family cattle ranching business stretching back nearly 100 years, he and his family ranch were inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame in 2008. Krentz was featured several times during the 1990s and 2000s (decade) in media reports regarding the problems surrounding illegal immigration across the Arizona stretch of the United States – Mexico border, particularly regarding its impact on ranching.
On March 27, 2010, Krentz was found shot dead on his Cochise County ranch property after reporting seeing an immigrant in need of help. In the immediate aftermath, local authorities said evidence indicated that the assailant was most likely an illegal immigrant, though subsequent investigation suggested the killing was not random and that drug smugglers may have been responsible….
Naturally, the legal beagles make it necessary for official reports to say Krentz “may” have been specifically targeted by those who didn’t like him speaking out on national TV against illegal drug smuggling traffic…but most of us don’t use the word “may”. It was definitely an assassination.
Sheriff Dannels cited one example of the good work done by his deputies working in concert with area ranchers. A rancher from the Willcox area called in to report that someone had shot one of his cows. This wasn’t the first time; it was in fact the fifth cow he’d lost that way. One of the deputies assigned to ranch advisory team duty got right out there, got an investigation going–and within 24 hours, they had two men in custody.
Mark also described a small team of Customs and Border Patrol officers they work with (much more closely than had been the case in prior years) who are not even full time. That is, there are not enough of them to keep agents in the field around the clock. Yet despite the size limitation, they produced some serious results in 2013: 3,000 pounds of marijuana seized, 7 firearms, 4 ounces of meth, and 30 smugglers arrested. Nor did it stop there; the coordinated efforts between federal and local law enforcement agencies have come up with a program that gets these guys (mostly guys; some are gals) charged within two weeks, and all 30 are currently doing 2 years in state custody.
These are seriously bad people and, while two years may not sound like a long time to have them out of commission, it’s a whole lot better than nothing.
Unsurprisingly, the Sheriff was even warned by one of the smugglers that the cartel folks are not exactly his biggest fans. “You need to be real careful; they don’t like you,” he was told.
Mark went on to let us know that he was not particularly concerned for his own safety, “…but I worry about the ranchers.”
Toward the end of the video, Dannels goes into the Department’s school & community outreach program. He stated that there are 21 schools in the county for which the Sheriff’s Department are first responders, which was an interesting tidbit. My wife may have known that (her kids went to school here after all), but being a fairly recent arrival myself (2009) at the age of 65, I hadn’t gotten around to scoping out the school situation.
There’s also a way to connect with the Sheriff’s department via social media, at least if you’re on Facebook. Simply “Like” the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, and you’ll get various updates on your own news feeds. Or if you’d prefer, just eyeball the page from time to time; they’ve got a wealth of information there, with reports on everything from 911 calls to progress on the new firing range still under construction.
That’s it for tonight, but it’s enough to be encouraging. Having a ranching background of our own, both Pam and I are pleased to report that local law enforcement appears to be in good hands. Much better than Allstate, as I should know, having been insured with them at one time. That insurance company gave every evidence of being in the business of denying claims, but this Sheriff gives every evidence of being in the business of…taking care of business.