The first sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona was John Harris Behan, also known as Johnny Behan. He is fairly well known due to his animosity with the Earp brothers. He was sheriff during the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. If you are unfamiliar with the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which is incredibly unlikely as it has been memorialized in so many films and shows, it was a very big deal. The following is a brief account of what happened.
It took place on October 26, 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Earp, at the time a security guard at a bank, and his brothers Morgan and Virgil, who was the town marshal, and the Clantons and McLaurys, who were known outlaws, did not get along and had frequent quarrels over territory and other matters.
On October 25, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury came into Tombstone, and for the next twenty four hours, the two men had several violent run-ins with the Earp brothers and their good friend Doc Holliday. The next day, Ike’s brother Billy, Frank McLaury, and a man named Billy Claiborne came to Tombstone to join Ike and Tom. They came across Doc Holliday, who spurred the conflict forward by bragging about how Ike and Tom had been badly beaten by the Earp brothers. They left the saloon swearing that they would get revenge on Wyatt Earp and his brothers.
That afternoon, the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday ran into the Clanton-McLaury gang at the O.K. Corral, and the famous gunfight ensued. For all the fame it now receives, it only lasted about thirty seconds; however, during that time, over thirty shots were fired. To this day, it is still unclear who shot first, though reports tend to claim it was Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. At the end of the gunfight, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, while Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday were all wounded. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran away.
Later, when the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared, Sheriff John Behan charged all of the Earp brothers as well as Doc Holliday with murder. He claimed to have witnessed the whole event. He had had some run-ins with the Earp brothers in the past, however, so his judgement was considered suspect by many, but the charges stuck and the case went to trial. Once there, however, the judge presiding over the case found each of the men not guilty because they had had just cause.
The story has been told and retold numerous times in books and movies. Some of the more well-known movies are Tombstone, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Wyatt Earp. This story cemented the legend of not only the Earps, McLaurys, and Doc Holliday but also of Sheriff Behan as well, and to this day, his is one of the most famous names of all the sheriffs throughout Cochise County’s history. There have been a few others who were almost as popular, as well, including Texas John Slaughter, who become sheriff in 1886 and his deputies Jeff Milton and Burt Alvord.
The current sheriff of Cochise County is Sheriff Mark Dannels. His chief deputy is Thad Smith. The mission statement of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, according to their website, is “to provide professional, high quality and effective law enforcement and correctional services in partnership with the community.” The statement continues on, saying, “We are committed to the protection of life and property; the preservation of peace, order, and safety; the vigorous enforcement of Local and State Laws; and the defense of the Constitution of the State of Arizona and the Constitution of the United States of America in a fair and impartial manner.”
Also according to their website, their vision statement reads as follows: “Providing citizens of Cochise County with effective and efficient public safety services since 1881, the Sheriff’s Office will continue its legacy to “lead the way.” We will perform our duties with the utmost character, competence, and open communications.”
The sheriff’s department of Cochise County is hugely active in the community. In addition to protecting and serving, they also sponsor and hold many different community-centric programs and events, including the “Are You Okay?” program, which is a program designed to help people who are homebound or physically disabled receive help in case of an emergency.
Participants in this program give their information to law enforcement and decide on a particular interval of time during which they want to be contacted. For instance, some people want to be contacted once a day while others feel comfortable being contacted only once or twice a week. A call is made to the participant according to their chosen interval, and if no answer is received after several tries, an officer of the law or other point of contact is sent to check on the individual. It is an effective way to ensure that those people in the community who have limited contact with others can still feel secure in the knowledge that someone will be checking in on them on a regular basis.
In addition to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department in Bisbee, Arizona, each of the six major cities, as well as Huachuca City, has its own police department.
Bisbee has its own police department specific to Bisbee in addition to the sheriff’s department, which serves the entire county. The police chief of the Bisbee Police Department is Chief Albert Echave. The station is located at 1 State Highway 92. Their mission statement is a simple one, but it is also a powerful one. They vow to serve and protect so that all citizens of Bisbee can live in peace, neither afraid for their own fates or the fates of their goods and/or properties.
Benson Police Department, under the leadership of Police Chief Paul Moncado, has a similar mission statement – to protect and to serve. Their statement also includes a section concerning community involvement, stating that its desire is to “provide more than just a Police Department for our community.” You can read more about the Benson Police Department here.
The Huachuca Police Department is located on Gonzalez Boulevard in Huachuca City, Arizona. The department is run by Police Chief Jim Thies. Their website can be found here.
Located at 300 West 14th Street, the Douglas Police Department of Douglas, Arizona is under the leadership of Police Chief Kraig Fullen. They are a forward thinking police station with not only their own website but their very own Facebook page, as well.
The Sierra Vista Police Department is another innovative Cochise County police department. Located on Coronado Drive, they have many community programs and events. They actually have a Citizen Police Academy program that teaches normal, every day citizens about the multiple facets of what the police do. They also have a Citizen Ride Along Program that allows citizens to ride with police officers in their cruisers to get a feel for the daily activities of a police officer. Furthermore, they offer comprehensive and informative tours of their facilities as well.
With Tombstone having the colorful and rich history that it does, it is no surprise that the Tombstone police officers have a lot to live up to, and it seems as though they are equal to the task. Tombstone does not have a police department; instead, it has the Tombstone Marshal’s Office, under the direction of Marshal Bob Randal. According to their website, “The Tombstone Marshal’s Department is proud of its heritage in the west and strives for professionalism and excellence in service.” The mission statement goes on to state the main goal of the Marshal’s office as “to provide excellent service to our citizens through proactive patrols and enforcement as well as establishing good public relations through community involvement.” The city officials realize that tourism is what keeps Tombstone prosperous, and the Tombstone Marshal’s Office plays a big part in that both as something to keep the peace and something to remind tourists of Tombstone’s Wild West heritage.
In Willcox, Arizona, the Department of Public Safety houses both the Willcox Police Department and the Willcox Fire Department and is located on West Rex Allen Drive. There are many different initiatives and departments covered by the Willcox Department of Public Safety, including the Willcox Meth Task Force and its Victims’ Rights group, among many others.
Cochise County Jail
Cochise County actually has three jails, and they all fall under one big umbrella referred to as the “Cochise County Detention Division” and is under the command of a jail commander. Other people on staff include a detention lieutenant, six sergeants, seven corporals, forty eight full-time detention officers, one mental health counselor, five detention aides, and two maintenance workers.
The main jail, referred to as the Cochise County Jail, is located in Bisbee, Arizona. It was built in 1985 and includes one hundred and sixty cells, each with a bed, a window, a light, and a toilet/sink. Each cell is set up in a two-tier housing format, which means that there is one cell over another cell, and the two cells share a common day room.
The other two jails are located in Sierra Vista and Willcox. These two jails are mainly used as temporary holding facilities until the inmates can be transferred to the main county jail in Bisbee.
Distance and Directions from Bisbee, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona
The county seat of Bisbee, Arizona is approximately three to three and a half hours away from Phoenix, Arizona in normal traffic conditions. The distance between the two cities is two hundred and seven (207) miles. Although the distance may seem quite a large one, the drive itself is fairly easy and straightforward to make.
From AZ 80, you will get on I-10 West. You stay on I-10 west for over one hundred and fifty miles before reaching Interstate 10 Frontage Road in Phoenix. There you will take exit 148 for Jefferson Street toward Washington Street. Once you drive approximately ten minutes to Washington Street, you will have arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a very easy drive to make.
There are other routes, of course, but this one is the easiest and most straightforward route. Plus, this route takes you through several major Arizona cities and places of interest, such as Tombstone, the Coronado National Forest, Tucson, and the Gila River Indian Reservation. The other route available for you to take would take you via AZ 90 instead of AZ 80. This would take you through Sierra Vista rather than Tombstone. It only adds about fifteen or twenty minutes to your trip before getting onto I-10 West, but if you are more interested in visiting Sierra Vista than Tombstone, then it might be the better route for you.
Cochise County, Arizona is an incredibly interesting place full of a lot of history in its cities and towns. It is a great place to visit if you are a tourist looking for somewhere new to vacation. There are multiple things to do in its many cities including tours, reenactments, shopping, dining, concerts, and art festivals. It truly does have something for everyone.
If you are looking to relocate permanently, it is also a good place to consider. It has a very diverse population, and the cost of living is reasonable. There are plenty of jobs available in various industries, the climate is temperate, and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.
I hope that this article has helped you to learn more about Cochise County, and I hope that I covered everything you might want to know. Thanks for your time, and thanks for visiting our site today.