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Border ranchers with few options now have police radios

Border ranchers with few options now have police radios

Astrid Galvan | AZ Daily Sun

Southern Arizona ranchers who often encounter drug smugglers and other dangers have a new way to get help in emergencies: sheriff-issued radios usually reserved for police that connect them directly to 911 dispatchers.

So far 31 ranchers along the Arizona-Mexico border have taken the new handheld radios issued by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Mark Dannels obtained them through private funding in an effort to improve safety along the rural areas that often lack strong cell phone coverage. He said the 2010 murder of rancher Rob Krentz led to increased security and more communication between ranchers and authorities. Authorities believe Krentz was fatally shot by drug smugglers.

"I don't think there's a better form of community policing out there than having them have a form of communication with us in their time of need," Dannels said.

The sheriff's office also has a team dedicated to patrolling ranch areas and an advisory group composed of law enforcement and ranchers.

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