Program provides radios to connect ranchers, Cochise County Sheriff's Office

Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 8, 2016 at 8:46 PM MST
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Ranchers will use the radios to be "an extension of the eyes and ears" of the Cochise County...
Ranchers will use the radios to be "an extension of the eyes and ears" of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. (Source: Cochise County Sheriff's Office)

COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Cochise County Sheriff's Office has handed out handheld radios to ranchers as part of the "radios for ranchers" program.

A total of 31 radios were handed out to ranchers who opted to participate. The radios have predefined frequencies that connect to other radios and the sheriff's office communications center.

"When they talk on the radio they have a direct channel into our sheriff's department. Or it's going to the regional communication center here in Cochise county which will be dispatching for police, fire, EMS, and also medical helicopters to include highway patrol," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.

Roger Barnett is one of the 31 ranchers with a radio. During his 21 years on the ranch, he said he's encountered everything from drug smugglers, bodies and undocumented immigrants.

"A couple of years ago my wife and I come upon three guys that were packing marijuana," Barnett said. "That was something else. It was a scary situation."

He said about half of his ranch, which spans 22,000 acres, doesn't have cell-phone service, so having the radio will give him some piece of mind.

"It's like having a live body next to you," Barnett said.

"They could be communicating with you while you're waiting for them to get there. Backup, confidence or whatever like that, that, 'Hey, I've got help.' Whereas on a cell phone you call them. It's a waiting game," Barnett said.

Large signs will be placed on the ranchers' properties that indicate the ranchers are participating in the Ranchers Network and Patrol Partnership.

Dannels said he hasn't heard of another agency providing radios to the public.

"It's a creative and innovative new way of doing business with our citizens," Dannels said.

He said this will help ensure everyone within the 62,000 square miles of the county will be better connected.

Phase 2 of this project includes equipping all schools in the county with radios.

A total of 70 radios will be given to schools to better communicate with emergency personnel. This will be put in place in time for the start of the next school year in August.

The funding for the radios came from a private foundation.

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