TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After more than 50 years in law enforcement, Santa Cruz County’s longest serving sheriff is retiring.
“I think seven times around is more than enough,” said Sheriff Tony Estrada.
Call it lucky number seven- at 77 years old and with seven terms as sheriff under his belt, Sheriff Estrada says it’s time to retire.
“I don’t want to push my luck any more," he said. "I want to stay healthy and I want to enjoy civilian life.”
Sheriff Estrada started as a dispatcher. He worked his way up through the ranks and eventually became sheriff. During his career, he’s had a number of great accomplishments. He says one of his biggest, is the building bearing his name.
“It’s been my dream to be able to have a place for my law enforcement family,” he said.
He says looking back at the old building, the new “Tony Estrada Law Enforcement Center” was a necessity.
“We needed to get away from the old building that we had. It was high risk, a lot of liability, we didn’t have a monitoring facility.”
As he prepares to leave this building, he says there is one thing he wishes he could have done.
“One of the things that I have always had and have been a little disappointed throughout my career is trying to convince politicians on the local level, both in the city and the county, that law enforcement and public safety should be a priority.”
It’s something he hopes the future sheriff can tackle. He also hopes they’ll understand what it means to protect a border community.
“Of the four border counties, we’re the poorest border with Mexico and we need a lot of help.”
Sheriff Estrada’s love of the community goes beyond public safety. He is an active volunteer for many organizations including the United Way.
Marisela Chavez is the Executive Director of the United Way of Santa Cruz County. She says his involvement has set him apart.
“I think he’ll probably continue to, knowing the sheriff, to be very involved with the community. He’s going to be highly missed,” she said.
Sheriff Estrada says it’s with mixed emotions he leaves office. While he’s been supporting the community for decades, he won’t forget how the community has supported him as well.
“It’s a constitutional office which means that we don’t have a boss." said Sheriff Estrada. "The people are the ones that are going to grade you on your performance. So, if you perform well, you do the job well, they will continue to support you. I have had that support for seven terms and I am eternally grateful.”
Sheriff Estrada says he now looks forward to spending more time with family. He also plans to golf, which he says he’s not good at, and go bowling more.