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About Sheriff Leon Wilmot

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Sheriff Leon N. Wilmot began his career in law enforcement in 1985 as a Reserve Deputy for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, while serving as a Marine assigned to the Marine Corp Air Station Yuma. He was hired by the Sheriff’s Office as a full time deputy on July 11, 1987, after completing four years of service in the United States Marine Corps. Wilmot’s first job as a public safety deputy was the start of a 35 year career of public service.

Expanding his resume two short years later, Wilmot was assigned to the Boating Safety Bureau for the next few years. In 1991, he was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division where he was responsible for major crimes investigations. On January 5, 1993, he was promoted to the rank of Patrol Corporal and placed in charge of the Foothills District and the Boating Safety and Enforcement Unit.

On April 7, 1996, he was promoted to Public Safety Sergeant and was placed in charge of the Boating Safety and Enforcement Unit operations. On January 6, 1997, he was promoted again, this time to Bureau Commander of the Criminal Investigations Unit where he supervised the Major Crimes Unit, the Methamphetamine Enforcement Unit and the deputies assigned to the Southwest Border Alliance Unit.

On April 19, 1998, he was promoted to the rank Public Safety Lieutenant and was assigned the supervision of all the Sheriff’s Office support units—Evidence, Communications, Fleet Management, Criminal Investigations Bureau and Emergency Operations Center. His next promotion came on September 3, 2001 to the rank of Public Safety Captain to oversee the Sheriff’s Office Patrol Bureau, charged with oversight of all patrol related activities. On February 22, 2004, he was promoted to Chief Deputy for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office and served in that position until his retirement in September 2012. He successfully campaigned for the office of Sheriff of Yuma County in 2012 and took the oath of office in January 2013. Sheriff Wilmot was re-elected to a second term as Sheriff of Yuma County in 2016.

Some of his professional accomplishments as Chief Deputy include the restructuring of the Southwest Border Alliance drug task force to the newly formed Yuma County Narcotics Task Force. Sheriff Wilmot was also instrumental in overseeing the restructuring of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Posse and is currently working on a Mutual Aid Law Enforcement Agreement between Imperial County California and Yuma County.

Accomplishments
Some of Sheriff Wilmot's professional accomplishments during his 7-1/2 years as Sheriff of Yuma County include:

  • Turning budgeted monies back to the Board of Supervisor (and the tax payers) through strict financial accountability.
  • A decrease in major crime cases by 70 percent. This was accomplish by increasing patrols in high-risk communities and business districts, and by helping citizens to establish effective neighborhood watch programs.
  • Addressing the pay inequities for Deputies, Detention Officers, Dispatchers, and other Sheriff’s Office staff which has proven to increase retention of personnel.
  • Addressing crime issues and trends in our community. While statistics have shown that violent crime is down in Yuma County, we continue to look at innovative ways to address the crime trends of the criminal element. One of those accomplishments was educating our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) counterparts in Washington, D.C. on the lack of resources to rural border communities. As a result, we were able to obtain a full time DHS funded Intel officer position for our agency to work on crime mapping, thereby providing deputies the most up to date crime analysis data so they can proactively patrol those areas to deter the criminal element.
  • Getting deputies into county schools as resource officers during their normal patrol shifts to build trust and foster relationships with the youth in our community. These deputies are building the bridges of communication with our youth and educating them on responsible conduct, as well as the dangers of drugs and violence. These deputies also participate in school fairs, conduct bicycle safety rodeos, and partner with community groups such as the Yuma Masonic Lodge for the “Bikes for Books” program.
  • Putting more deputies out on the street. The Sheriff’s Office Patrol Bureau currently has 94 deputies compared to the 85 deputy positions a decade ago. We were able to accomplish this by working closely with the Board of Supervisors and also funding some additional positions through grants.
  • Saving taxpayers money by focusing on bringing in programs through the use of innovative grants. With an annual budget of nearly $40 million dollars, being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers has always been a priority for me. I am very proud that the Sheriff’s Office continues to operate within our budget and that we have been able to return money back to the county general fund. It is incumbent upon us to make sure we are being the best stewards that we can be, and to make sure that we stay within our budget, while still providing the best quality service and response to those we serve.
  • Providing employees an opportunity to seek advanced educational degrees. We have been able to address the shortage of deputies by sponsoring and paying for detention officers to attend the Arizona Western College Law Enforcement Training Academy. It’s an investment in our employees and win-win for our office and the community. Not only are those detention officers earning college credits to further their education, but once they graduate the academy, they can become certified peace officers for the same agency they have been working for and in the community where they have lived.
  • Upgrades in technology and security in the jail. We have added security equipment in the detention center to prevent narcotics and contraband from being introduced into the jail.
  • Drug Court: Working with the courts, we have been able to reduce inmate population with the Drug Court and Mental Health Court.
  • Military Affairs Committee: As a member of the Yuma County Chamber Of Commerce, the Sheriff’s Office became involved with the Military Affairs Committee. This committee brings together all of the various veteran organizations. Those resources are then provided not only to our veteran employees, but also to veterans who are incarcerated in order to provide them with programs and resources to keep them from returning to our facility.
  • Full-Time Law Enforcement Academy in Yuma: Through our multi-agency partnership with the Arizona Western College we were able to bring a full-time law enforcement academy to Yuma. Not only does this save tax payer monies, but the academy also brings in cadets from other Arizona counties to an academy tailored to rural community based law enforcement.

Education
Sheriff Wilmot’s law enforcement education is expansive—graduating from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 1994, the FBI National Academy in 2000, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Supervisor’s Course in 2005. In 2007, he completed the Certified Public Manager program through the Arizona State University. In addition, he has also attained the Professional Development designation through the Federal Emergency Management Agency by taking leadership classes in Emergency Management. Sheriff Wilmot also completed the National Sheriffs’ Institute 106th Session, Executive Level Management Education and Training in 2014.

Professional Organizational Memberships
Sheriff Wilmot is a member of numerous professional organizations, including:

  • Arizona Association of Counties
  • Arizona County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Association
  • Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Oversight Council on Driving or Operating Under the Influence Abatement committee
  • Arizona Sheriff’s Association – past President (2 terms)
  • Arizona State Legislative Committee Notification Board on Sex Offenders
  • Deputy Sheriff’s Association
  • Emergency Management Advisory Council
  • Joint Border Security Advisory Committee
  • National Rifle Association
  • National Sheriff’s Association – Board of Directors
  • Policía Internacional Arizona-Sonora
  • Select Council on Progressive Enforcement – past President (2 terms)
  • Southwestern Border Sheriffs' Coalition – Past Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice Chair; current Chairman
  • U.S. Department of Justice, President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice
  • Western States Sheriff’s Association – Executive Board Member; 2018-2019 Sheriff of the Year
  • Yuma Area Ag Council
  • Yuma County Local Emergency Planning Committee

On January 9, 2017, Sheriff Wilmot was appointed to the National Sheriffs’ Association Board of Directors, which represents all 3,080 sheriffs across the country and sets guidance and direction for the association. He was officially elected to the NSA Board of Directors by the NSA membership in June 2017 during the annual conference.

Sheriff Wilmot is also currently serving as Chairman of the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition; member of the National Sheriffs’ Association Border Security Committee; member of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety “Oversight Council on Driving or Operating Under the Influence Abatement” committee; the Sheriff’s Representative on the Arizona Association of Counties (AACO) Executive Board; and the AACO Legislative Policy Committee. He is also an active member of the Western State Sheriff’s Association. On March 6, 2019, Sheriff Wilmot was presented with the WSSA 2018-2019 Sheriff of the Year award during their Annual Conference. In 2019, Sheriff Wilmot was elected by the Arizona Sheriffs to be their state representative on the Western States Sheriff's Association Executive Board.

In March 2020, Sheriff Wilmot accepted an invitation to be a member of the U.S. Department of Justice, President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. Sheriff Wilmot was the only Sheriff in the western United States to be invited to be a member of this commission.

Sheriff Wilmot is the past Chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association Border Security Committee; past President of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, having served two terms (2015-2016); past President of the Arizona County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Association; past Vice President of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association; past Treasurer of the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition; and past Secretary of the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition.

Community Organizational Memberships
Sheriff Wilmot is also a member of numerous local organizations, including:

  • Amberly’s Place (Executive Board member)
  • American Legion, Post 19
  • Arizona Town Hall
  • Caballeros de Yuma
  • Military Affairs Committee
  • Military Vehicle Preservation Association
  • Model A Ford Club of America
  • Model A Restorers Club
  • Single Action Shooting Society
  • U.S. Practical Pistol Association
  • White Mountain Range Riders
  • Yuma County Chamber of Commerce
  • Yuma County Fair Board - Community Liaison
  • Yuma County Sheriff’s Posse
  • Yuma Masonic Lodge #17
  • Yuma MatchMasters
  • Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club

Life & Hobbies

Sheriff Wilmot is married to Ruth Wilmot who recently retired after 35 years of teaching with the Yuma School District #1. One of his hobbies is restoring old cars. His most recent project was the restoration of a 1929 Model A, Model 290A standard police vehicle.

Sheriff Wilmot has participated in local car club shows with the Model "A" Model Asponsored by Nastalgia Car Club, Mi Vida, La Raza, Uniques, Christian Rods and Cruisers to help in raising funds for local nonprofit organizations. He has received several awards for the Model "A" to include first place in the 2010 Police Vehicle Design Contest, "Best Vintage Police Cars" category. Click link to view article from the August 2010 Law and Order magazine: 2010 Police Vehicle Design Contest Winners: Best Vintage Police Cars

Sheriff Wilmot also enjoys participating in the local parades with the Model "A", the most recent being the Wellton Pioneer Day and the Silver Spur Rodeo parades.

In 2012, Sheriff Wilmot discovered sand drag racing and purchased a Jeep which he named "Blue Mule II". He participates in many local sand drags as well as national events. During the 2015 Avenal Sand Drags Fall Nationals, he earned runner-up finishes in two classes. Click link to view article from Sand Sports magazine: Sand Drag Scene - 2015 Avenal Sand Drags Fall Nationals

Sheriff Wilmot donated the winnings from the Avenal Sand Drags to the Coalinga Roughneck Wrestling Team who was raising money for their wrestling camp.