Sep 19, 2012 5:40 PM by Ian Cross
TUCSON - Several key members of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office and Cochise County government spoke at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, paying their respects to Sheriff Larry Dever and clarifying what will happen to the office and county moving forward.
"We lost a great man last night," said Chief Deputy and Acting Sheriff Rodney Rothrock. "He served this county for many, many years, he was very well-liked, and quite frankly, we believe he will go down as one of the greatest sheriffs that we have ever seen."
Rothrock clarified that by the sheriff's office structure and state statute, he is now in charge at the sheriff's office, as Chief Deputy.
Plans for a memorial service are still being made at this time, Rothrock said, and the Dever family will announce these within the next few days.
"The Dever family is overwhelmed with the current events that directly impacted their lives," Rothrock said. "First, with the passing of Ms. Annie Dever, on Friday September 4 - that was Sheriff Dever's mother, and now Sheriff Dever being killed in this very tragic accident."
The Dever family has seen an outpouring of support from across the country, Rothrock said, including from St. David's School, which lowered their flag to half-staff, and from the Sierra Vista Regional Health Care Center medical staff, who collected $1000 in just under two hours to donate to the Tree of Life.
Rothrock then read a statement by Nancy Dever, Sheriff Larry Dever's wife:
"We are so grateful for the amazing support, and the love of people locally and nationwide. I know in my heart that Larry would want any donations to be made to the Cochise County Search and Rescue, and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office Sheriff's Assist Team, in lieu of flowers to the family. We have suffered an overwhelming loss to our family, and we grieve with all of you who grieve for us."
Deputy Cochise County Administrator Jim Vlahovich then got up to read a prepared press release from the county:
The residents and Cochise County employees are grieving the loss of Larry A. Dever, Cochise County Sheriff, killed in a single-vehicle accident in Coconino County yesterday evening, September 18, 2012. As noted in the Press Release issued by the Sheriff's Office last night, the Dever family is requesting that no calls be made to them at their personal residence. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office will relay all messages to the family directly. God bless the Dever family.
In light of Sheriff Dever's untimely death, questions have arisen with respect to the orderly transition of the office of Sheriff. The Board of Supervisors is working with the County Attorney and with the Sheriff's Office to ensure continuity of business operations and an orderly transition.
Several statutes govern in this situation; however, the actual protocols are complex and implementation details are being researched by the County Attorney's Office.
Preliminary research conducted by the County Attorney's Office has identified relevant statutes regarding the vacancy in the Office of Sheriff.
When a vacancy occurs in the office of sheriff the Chief Deputy shall execute the office until the vacancy is filled.
The County Board of Supervisors shall appoint a person of the same political party as the person vacating the office to fill the office until the next general election. The person who is elected at the next general election shall fill the remainder of the unexpired term of office.
The Party County Committee shall nominate a candidate of the party's choice and shall file a nomination paper and affidavit to fill such vacancy. The nomination paper shall be filed any time before the printing of the ballots.
The Board of Supervisors' Office will act as a conduit to take all media inquiries regarding the succession and ensure that those inquiries are routed to the County Attorney's Office for consideration and response. Board Chairman, Richard Searle, has directed that Ms. Katie Howard, Clerk of the Board, is designated as the point of contact for inquiries of this nature (contact info above).
When the County Attorney's Office advises the Board regarding the exact process to be followed, updated Press Releases will be issued to the media and posted on the County's website.
Finally, Ann English from the Cochise County Board of Supervisors confirmed that Rothrock is the acting sheriff, and that the board is responsible for appointing Sheriff Dever's successor.
Those wishing to make donations in honor of Sheriff Larry Dever should contact:
Cochise County Sheriff
Search and Rescue
Cochise County Service Center
4001 E. Foothills Drive
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
205 North Judd Drive
Mile Post 345, Highway 80
Bisbee, Arizona 85603