As I enter my 36th year of law enforcement, I reflect on the lessons of life and exposures I have experienced during my tenure. One constant during my career that remains the same is our mission to serve people during their time of need. I would conclude that since the inception of Cochise County in 1881, our mission to serve and protect our citizens and guests has never changed.
As community stewards of public safety, the challenges, trends and legal mandates continue to evolve. We must always maintain our professional standards while sustaining our trust and respect within our communities. Its most important we understand "WHY" we take an Oath of Office that defines who we are and why we serve. To date, every person that serves our mission is provided the Oath of Office which represents Honor, Respect, Loyalty and Dedication.
Over the past year, we continue to seek balance in everything we do with priority on YOU, being the backbone to this agency's success. Organizations are enhanced by the quality of our personnel, not the quantity serving our mission. I am so impressed and proud to have a team of professional and passionate team members safeguarding our citizens and fulfilling our mission and vision. You truly own our reputation as an agency that "Leads the Way" supported by the many positive comments and feedback from the citizens of Cochise County.
I have set a personnel standard that 75% of our sworn personnel will be assigned to the patrol division with 25% assigned to specialty. Currently, we are at 74.8% with an understanding that this number will move slightly up and down based on retirements, resignations, transfers, hiring practices, standards and yes, the unexpected. Predictive policing practices supported by analytical data has been applied to enhance and standardize patrol coverage countywide.
Fair and equitable employee compensation has been a primary focus and commitment over the last 8 years. I am proud to report that we have reached a new plateau by getting all employees within 5% of the compensation market with annual reviews-audits to ensure we maintain this practice.
A plethora of programs have been implemented over the past year, but to save some time, I want to just highlight a few of them. The first is our regional communication center, SEACOM. I remain a firm believer in the regional application of 911/Emergency Dispatch services for Police-Fire-EMS as an efficient and effective resource for our citizens. I remain confident that time will embrace this concept and change. Secondly, the partnership with Cochise College allowing us to have our own Police Academy. We graduated two classes in 2019 and those officers/deputies are now serving communities throughout southern Arizona and beyond. Another reflection of our dedication to our communities. The third program is our border efforts to prevent and combat those bringing illicit drugs into our country has proven effective based on our partnerships, innovation, and most important, established consequences for those violating our laws.
Finally, each one of you in a collective effort provide a special value to this office. You've heard me say this before, it's not about the position you represent, but the mission (people) you serve. I have high hopes that 2020 will be another year of Prosperity, Quality and Friendships that we all can embrace as we move the Cochise County Sheriff's Office into the future. Thank you for your Service and most important, be Safe out there!
Sheriff Mark J. Dannels