Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels is calling out Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Stellar for inaccuracies he included in an article about philanthropist and Cochise County resident Howard Buffet. Dannels corrected the record in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Not only has Buffet traveled the world to bring clean water, medical care, and food security to distressed and marginalized populations, as a Cochise County resident, Buffet has used his wealth to enhance public safety. As Dannels notes, “The Howard Buffett Foundation has been generous to public safety agencies throughout the United States and that includes the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. This generosity has allowed for an increase in public safety for our personnel, fire department personnel, emergency services personnel, and others through providing an actual functioning radio communications system that was previously not available, nor would have been in the future without funding outside of Cochise County.”
According to his Post, Dannels attempted to correct the record and “issued a response to Stellar’s “article published by the Arizona Daily Star, which was not published in any form to include a submitted opinion or letter to the editor.” As a result, Dannels included that response in his Facebook post:
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office are frequently reaching out to our citizens through the media in order to share information and safety tips.
The media also contacts the Sheriff’s Office frequently to request information and interviews for stories they are working on for the same purpose, to keep our citizens informed and safe.
In this symbiotic relationship there are sometimes missteps in relaying information in such a manner as the initial information may morph into something different due to additional details being obtained, and clarification from boots on the ground being provided.
One such story was written in March of 2019 by reporter Tim Stellar and published by the Arizona Daily Star. In preparation for this story, Sheriff Dannels provided an in-person interview to Mr. Stellar and when the question was asked by the reporter referencing Mr. Howard Buffett writing traffic citations, Sheriff Dannels specifically refuted that information because it is just not true.
The article was written and contained the “fact” that Mr. Howard Buffet had written four citations while acting in a capacity for the Sheriff’s Office, again a “fact” that is just not true.
The Howard Buffett Foundation has been generous to public safety agencies throughout the United States and that includes the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. This generosity has allowed for an increase in public safety for our personnel, fire department personnel, emergency services personnel, and others through providing an actual functioning radio communications system that was previously not available, nor would have been in the future without funding outside of Cochise County.
The Howard Buffett Foundation has been generous to our communities by purchasing radios to provide instant communication to a dispatch center (SEACOM) by our ranching partners and local schools. This program would not have been possible without the funding received from the Buffett Foundation, and the security felt by those who have access to this equipment has improved significantly.
The Howard Buffett Foundation has assisted in providing the Sheriff’s Office with access to Air Support via Geronimo, an asset that has proven time and time again to help save the lives of our citizens who have been lost and/or injured; to our citizens who have been stranded in remote areas without a chance to get out for the basic necessities such as food, water, and animal care supplies due to raging floods; and to our own Deputies who have been in positions of ambush without any way to identify the dangers which were over the next ridge, around the next fence, or behind them. Without HGB Foundation funding, we would not have the level of safety we have now for ourselves or for you.
Sheriff Dannels issued a response to the article published by the Arizona Daily Star, which was not published in any form to include a submitted opinion or letter to the editor. In fairness to the Sheriff’s Office, and to those we serve, we have the response listed here.
Response to: “Wealthy donor to Cochise County Sheriff’s Department is raising concerns over his influence” written by Tim Steller Arizona Daily Star March 2, 2019.”
In a world, rife with opinions and skepticism, my profession has taught me to rely on facts, supported by the legal responsibility and mandates of my honorable office and most important, the high expectations of my citizens.
Mr. Stellar’s article highlights the generous donations by a very gracious man who truly cares about his communities and the health and welfare of people. Unfortunately, the article spins a tale of Mr. Buffett’s generosity into a political theme about control. Additionally, the article steers readers into believing Mr. Buffett’s agenda is of ill-will for personal gain and ideologies. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I have known Mr. Buffett since late 2012, when he purchased properties in Cochise County. It didn’t take long for Mr. Buffett and I to realize we share many common visions highlighted by a mission to help people. My leadership team and I formalized our visions into written proposals, presented them to the Howard G. Buffett foundation for review, and hoped for approval. I was honored to announce that some of the grants were approved, which allows my office to not only enhance delivery of services and quality of life to our citizens, but also provide modern day equipment and technology to my deputies and volunteers increasing their overall safety and effectiveness.
While opportunities for local and state public safety agencies to apply for grants is not uncommon, the amount of funding awarded to smaller agencies tends to be far less than that of larger agencies competing for the same grant funds. Having a man/foundation like Mr. Buffett who focuses grant funding efforts on small agencies with bare bone budgets is remarkable. His humanitarian application around the world illustrates and exemplifies what he has done for the citizens of Cochise County too.
I am proud to have Mr. Buffett serving as a volunteer with my office along with the 100+ other volunteers that serve their communities through the Sheriff’s Office public safety mission. Mr. Buffett’s duties include riding with deputies and working with ranchers and farmers within my county sharing his vast agriculture background. Mr. Buffett has taken the same Oath of Office along with my 300 team members who have raised their right hand to confirm their community commitment. Simply stated, Mr. Buffett now shares the same expectations to help those in need, which he fulfills with honor and professionalism.
The article speaks about Mr. Buffett issuing citations, this is NOT true. This is a false assumption by a reporter based on a form they clearly do not understand, but yet, made no effort to obtain clarification from the appropriate authority before printing their assumption.
It is nice to know there are people, like Howard Buffett, who freely give their time and wealth for the betterment of others. Sadly, there are others who, for their own benefit, prefer to create conspiracies so they may place a negative spotlight on Mr. Buffett’s actions. All the while, ignoring the end-results of his goodwill.
In summary, Mr. Buffett has truly made a positive difference in Cochise County by not only providing funds to promote community outreach programs, but by his personal actions. While some like to speculate and criticize, I like to recognize and appreciate, “Thank you Mr. Howard Buffett for helping my office “Lead the Way” and making Cochise County an awesome place to call HOME.”
Mark J. Dannels
Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona