He was the sheriff who wore the white hat, fought the federal government for a safer border, and when it came to service not many have measured up to Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever.
Dever was killed in a one-vehicle collision Tuesday night near Williams.
As news of Dever’s death reached the national level, it didn’t take long for those who have worked with him and known him to speak up about his years of public service.
U.S. Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl today issued the following joint statement: “We were deeply saddened to learn about the sudden death of our friend Larry Dever. We spent a great deal of time at the border with Sheriff Dever and know first-hand his long commitment to keeping the people of our state safe. We also admired Sheriff Dever’s strength to speak out when he believed more needed to be done to secure our border. Sheriff Dever was not only a leader in Cochise County, but also across Arizona and throughout the law enforcement community. Sheriff Dever was a man of honor, integrity, and selfless service to the State of Arizona. He will be greatly missed.”
Dever is survived by his wife Nancy, six sons, and 11 grandchildren. Dever was born and raised in St. David, a small community near Benson.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said this is a big loss to the state’s law enforcement community.
“Words are insufficient to describe the tragic loss of Sheriff Dever, not only was he a consonant professional, he was an incredible leader and human being,” he said. “Arizona and Cochise County have suffered an irreplaceable loss. Larry’s sudden and untimely death has left a gaping hole in the hearts of all who have had the privilege of knowing this distinguished lawman. Our heartfelt prayers go out to his family and friends. I am sure his boots will remain unfilled in perpetuity.”
Gov. Jan Brewer ordered flags to be flown and half staff until sunset Wednesday. The flags will be flown in half-staff in honor of Dever’s 34 years of public service.
“Like all Arizonans, I was shocked to learn this morning that Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever had been killed hours earlier in a one-car accident while traveling in northern Arizona. True to form for this husband, father of six and grandfather, he was reportedly en route to meet several members of his family for a Fall hunting and camping trip in the Arizona high country,” Brewer said. ”I had known Sheriff Dever for well over a decade, stretching back to my days with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. I’ll remember him in his cowboy hat – soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, but firm in his beliefs and steady in his service to the law. In the truest sense, Sheriff Dever was a Western lawman and country gentleman.
“Arizona has lost a leader of more than three decades in our law enforcement community. My thoughts and prayers today – and those of Arizonans, I am sure – are with his wife, Nancy, their children, friends and colleagues as they cope with this terrible loss.”
Dever was looking to serve a fifth term in office, running unopposed in the Nov. 6 election.
Throughout his service, Dever was a major proponent of border security. The Cochise County Sheriff’s department led the investigation into the shooting death of a rancher near the U.S./Mexico border.
In his early days as a deputy, Dever was shot when an escalating issue between the sheriff’s department and a religious cult ended badly.
Arizona Rep. Ron Barber said, “Larry Dever was the consummate law enforcement professional, dedicating more than half of his life to the sheriff’s department in his native Cochise County. He was – literally and figuratively– the lawman in the white hat.
“His sincerity and his allegiance to this nation and to the safety and security of Cochise County residents and all Americans could never be questioned.
“Sheriff Dever’s experience and his voice cannot be replaced. My condolences and prayers go out to his family, to his colleagues in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department and to a grateful community.”
The Deputy Chief of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department will now take over as chief, following protocol.