BISBEE — There is no such thing as a “typical day” on the Ranch Patrol.
That’s because being a member of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Ranch Patrol is no typical job — it’s a calling.
Deputies Jacob Kartchner and Mike Magoffin are the Ranch Patrol, the liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and Cochise County’s ranching community.
For the two men, both fifth-generation ranchers from Cochise County, being on the Ranch Patrol since the unit’s inception in 2013 is the most natural and comfortable of fits.
“I wanted to interact more with people that I knew the problems they were having because it’s the life that I lived,” said the 37-year-old Kartchner. “Before I was on the Ranch Patrol, I was a deputy for nine years.”
Ditto for Magoffin, 33, who grew up on a cattle ranch just east of Douglas and worked as a patrol deputy for five years before he joined the Ranch Patrol.
“We don’t have a typical day in Ranch Patrol,” says Magoffin, who lives north of Willcox. “We do have big pieces of the pie that make up the Ranch Patrol.”
The deputies’ uniforms include blue jeans, long sleeve shirts, cowboy hats and boots. Both applied for the positions in 2013, and because both are ranchers aside from law enforcement officers, it was an ideal match.
Magoffin describes the three main components that define the Ranch Patrol:
• liaison work between the agricultural community and the Sheriff’s Office, which includes open dialogue between the Ranch Patrol and farmers and ranchers in the county. Many ranchers and farmers are the “eyes and ears” for the Ranch Patrol.
• calls for service on straying livestock or suspicions of animal abuse, as well as thefts and burglaries
• work with the Sheriff’s Southeast Arizona Border Region Enforcement (SABRE) unit on interdiction of drug and international crime on the border.
“(Our relationship with ranchers and farmers) it has to be a two-way street for that work to be good,” Magoffin says. “We have an open dialogue with farmers and ranchers in the county.”
Magoffin calls that relationship a “force multiplier.” The farmers and ranchers are often their eyes and ears.
“The ranchers and farmers in the rural areas tell us what’s going on with illegal activity, trespassed cattle or hunters,” Magoffin said.
Ranchers and farmers also inform Magoffin and Kartchner on drug and illegal migrant activity. The Ranch Patrol passes that on and investigates those issues with the SABRE unit run by Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Williams. The deputies also work closely with U.S. Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies.
The men split the county in two, Kartchner taking the west side and Magoffin handling the east. Many times, if a case or situation warrants it, they work together. Their “office” is on horseback or in their trucks. The job also required that each deputy have their own horse. Magoffin’s horse is named Dalley. Kartchner calls his “the Paint Horse.”
“These are the horses we use in our lives outside of the department,” said Kartchner, who lives in Benson.
The mission the pair performs daily is invaluable, said Sheriff Mark Dannels.
“They bring an expertise to the job,” Dannels said. “The ranching community is a very tight community. They are both ranchers. It’s just a nice fit.”
Most importantly, Dannels said, ranchers trust Magoffin and Kartchner: “They have a direct link.”
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said that because of their ranching histories, the Ranch Patrol deputies have brought old relationships with them to their positions. Their knowledge of ranching also has helped them “forge new friendships.”
“They’rea extremely valuable,” Capas says. “All of our personnel have contributions to our mission. This is one segment of that mission and that’s making sure we can integrate into the ranching community. It’s a benefit to us to have them as a liaison.”
For Magoffin and Kartchner though, a day on the job is simply getting paid to do something they both love.
“It’s the best gig in the county,” says Magoffin with a grin.
Kartchner expounds on that thought: “It takes a special kind of person to do what we do. “But by the same token, part of the selection process was finding people who fit the position. So since we fit the positions, that’s why we’re happy.”