SIERRA VISTA — The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office recognized its Sheriff’s Assist Team volunteers Wednesday with a luncheon and special honors to those who have exhibited outstanding volunteer service.

Dan Minjares earned the 2020 Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer of the Year award for his role as the CCSO chaplain and his hours of patrol work with the assist team.

His award was presented by Sheriff Mark Dannels, who praised him for his 28 years in the military as a chaplain.

Minjares has been a member of the Sheriff’s Assist Team for longer than three years and has excelled as a patrol and call-out volunteer. He is recognized as a top performing SAT volunteer, accumulating over 1,300 volunteer hours since joining the team. He is known for his willingness to take extra patrols, responsiveness to emergency call-outs and other assignments when needed.

The 2019 SAT Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Michael Dominy, with SAT Commander John Black making the presentation. Dominy is considered one of the team’s most valuable “go to” members. He joined SAT in 2014 and during that time evolved into a premier patrol volunteer, Black said. Dominy could always be counted on to answer critical call-out situations by responding to wildland fires, flooding and vehicular accidents, always providing vital support for law enforcement officers. Since joining SAT, he has accumulated more than 4,700 volunteer hours, representing an average of 725 volunteer hours a year.

Dan Long was recognized as SAT’s 2020 volunteer of the year. Along with multiple patrols and call-outs, Long is recognized for bringing a wealth of knowledge about communications equipment to the team.

“While patrolling across the county, he took it upon himself to stop at schools to check on the condition of schools’ emergency radios provided by the Sheriff’s Office,” Black said. “He often was required to fix non-functioning radios and train school personnel responsible for operating the radios during an emergency,” to name some of the services Long provided.

Organized in 2002 and incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2003, SAT is an all-volunteer group of citizens who assist the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office with non-law enforcement tasks. SAT provides a volunteer force that releases CCSO personnel from routine administrative and operational tasks, allowing them to focus on law enforcement duties.

Because of COVID, SAT canceled all social gatherings and face-to-face meetings in 2020 and during the first five months of 2021. In addition, the detention, administrative and fingerprinting volunteers that worked in county facilities were not available. Special events and activities around the county that SAT normally supported were canceled.

“However, we were able to keep up our normal patrolling, vacation house checks, emergency call-outs and funeral escorts,” Black noted.

Despite the cancellations and drop in services, there was only a 20% reduction in volunteer hours in 2020, Black reported.

“From 2014 to 2019, our volunteer hours were at 10,000 per year, and dropped to 8,000 in 2020,” he said. “SAT volunteers performed in an outstanding manner through all this.”

The team’s current membership of 40 volunteers is mostly a mix of retired military, law enforcement and business men and women. Some members work in the private and government sectors.

“I want to thank everyone in this room for supporting the Sheriff’s Office and for all the work you do,” Dannels said to the group. “I can’t say enough about what you do for the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Cochise County. I want to thank you all for making a difference.”

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