On Nov. 18, the SaddleBrooke Ranch Republican Club had its general meeting in the beautiful Escondido Room at the Ranch Clubhouse. The keynote speaker was scheduled to be Sheriff Mark Lamb, from Pinal County, but the surprise arrival of his brand-new granddaughter (his first!) caused an abrupt change in his plans—certainly understandable to all! Lt. Eli Pile, a twenty-year veteran of the department and the director of Region B for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office pinch-hit for his boss. He joked that he looked a little like Sheriff Lamb but was more handsome!
Pinal County is nearly the size of Connecticut and the Sheriff’s Office covers two regions. Region B is by far the largest and runs all the way from Maricopa to southeastern Pinal County where SaddleBrooke Ranch is located. Region A is much smaller and covers the northern section of the county. There are 88 deputies patrolling the county, 44 in each region. The problems patrolling in Region B are primarily related to the large geographical area that needs to be covered, as opposed to the larger population with which Region A must deal. We have four deputies assigned to our section of the county, with substations in Oracle and San Manuel.
Lt. Pile stated that response time for calls is generally around ten minutes, although the crime rate in the HOAs of SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch is almost non-existent (good news, that!). According to Lt. Pile, 90% of the crimes in Region B are “crimes of opportunity,” so taking basic precautions, such as not leaving a purse in the car and locking doors, is advisable.
Lt. Pile stated that in Arizona the Sheriff’s Office is king because it is an elected position; however, the office cooperates with all other agencies in the state, such as the Department of Public Safety (DPS/state troopers). The DPS officers are primarily assigned to highway patrol and don’t respond to other calls. Any deputized police officer in Arizona, however, can enforce the law and make arrests throughout the state as needed.
The Sheriff’s Office operates a number of different service units throughout the county. The Posse unit is composed entirely of volunteers. These volunteers are trained at the academy, deputized, wear badges, and drive marked police cars. Their primary duties involve transportation of prisoners, assisting with traffic control, and controlling large events. The Citizens on Patrol (COP) unit are volunteers who, after being screened, background checked, and trained; patrol their communities as the “eyes & ears” for law enforcement. The Search & Rescue unit receives more than 350 calls per year and operates two helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft. The K-9 unit currently has four dogs, with one more on the horizon. Lastly, the Traffic unit operates primarily in Region A in the San Tan Valley, which is the largest unincorporated area of the state with 152,000 residents and 27 schools.
All of these dedicated first responders have our deepest gratitude.