Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was honored for his use of innovative equipment and technology, tough stance on illegal immigration, and regional efforts to improve public safety, among other achievements. Explorer file photo

On June 19, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was recognized as the 2011 National Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriffs’ Association. The award was presented during the opening general session at the NSA’s annual conference in St. Louis. 

In 2008, Sheriff Paul Babeu won his first term in a landslide election victory over the incumbent sheriff. Since being elected as the Pinal County sheriff, he has become one of the most progressive sheriffs in the country.

Babeu has earned both statewide and national attention for his strong stance against illegal immigration. His stance and actions against those responsible for drug and human trafficking has earned him the distinction as one of “America’s Toughest Sheriffs on Illegal Immigration.”

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office is the third largest in the state of Arizona with more than 700 employees. Under Babeu’s direction, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has acquired both innovative equipment and technology through $7 million in grant funding.  Citizens of Pinal County used to wait up to 15 minutes for a deputy to respond; the response time has now been cut in half.

Babeu is a strong proponent of regional efforts to improve public safety. The approach has allowed all agencies within Pinal County to pool their resources and work together, saving money and improving service. Thanks to Babeu, Pinal County now has a Regional SWAT, Traffic and Narcotics Task Force.

Babeu has also organized a Citizens on Patrol program and a Citizen Alert Network, which has brought the community forward and more active with the Sheriff’s Office.

The NSA established the Ferris E. Lucas award in 1995 to recognize an outstanding sheriff of the year for contributions made to improve the Office of Sheriff on the local, state and national levels, and for involvement in the community above and beyond the responsibilities required.

The award is given in memory of Ferris E. Lucas, NSA past president (1944-46) and executive director (1964-82), who completed 50 years of distinguished service and leadership in law enforcement. This year’s award is sponsored by Pursuit Products, Inc.

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