SIERRA VISTA — There’s a peace officer celebrity in our midst.
You might know him as Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. But you probably didn’t know he just picked up a cool new title: Sheriff of the Year.
Dannels, who’s been the county’s elected sheriff since 2012, beat out sheriffs in the 16 states that comprise the Western States Sheriffs’ Association.
He was named Sheriff of the Year Wednesday at the association’s 2018 conference in Reno, Nevada.
Dannels couldn’t attend because he had to — what else? — work, but he received plenty of congratulatory phone calls and texts.
“I’m honored, humbled and shocked,” he said. “People were congratulating me, and I was like, ‘What for?’
“I didn’t even know I was nominated.”
In fact, Dannels still doesn’t know who nominated him.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by peers,” he said.
“I share this award with the professional staff at the sheriff’s department and the great community I work with. I’m proud to win, and grateful for a supportive family and community.”
Dannels, 54, was elected to a four-year term in 2012, then re-elected in 2016. This is his 34th year in law enforcement, all of it in Cochise County.
“I’ll run as long as I’m making a difference, going to work with a smile, and the people want me,” he said.
James Pond, executive director of the sheriffs association, said the award is given to a sheriff who has had a positive impact on the association and in their role as sheriff.
Dannels was quick to note that he is one among many such peace officers.
“There are so many awesome sheriffs out there,” he said.
The sheriffs office website details Dannels’ memberships, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Southwest Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, the Arizona Sexual Assault Task Force, Just Kids Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Vista, along with many other local and national organizations.
He also coaches varsity wrestling at Buena High School.
Although the full list of his associations is long, his motivation is short:
“I believe in serving the people.”