Cochise County Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Zavala is always one call away for anyone who needs help.

He began his career serving others in the military as a military police officer. When he retired, he continued to serve with the Bisbee Police Department and Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

In 2020 he decided to return to a full-time position with CCSO in order to serve and protect the students and staff at Naco Elementary School.

Ive done a lot of jobs in my life and this truly has been one of the most rewarding,” Zavala said. “Because its just the impact we have, and the positive impact we have on the kids and the staff as well.

Little did he know the impact he’d have on the kids in such a little amount of time.

Hes just an overall great person,” eighth grader Adriana Acosta said. “He makes you feel safe. You can talk to him as a friend, without being judged or anything.

Acosta’s classmate Humberto Huicoza said having a CCSO deputy on campus is making the school safer, and provides a sense of security for him.

Its just been better since hes been here,” he said. “I just think its we can be more safe in an environment where we have someone who could defend us and protect us.

Zavala said over the last few years he’s been at the school there haven’t been any fights or student violence.

Providing that security, providing that safety, providing that ability for staff to feel comfortable when they come to work. And same thing for the students,” he said.

Acosta, Hucoza and other students, as well as staff, wrote letters of support to nominate Zavala for the state’s School Resource Officer of the Year competition. Zavala said he didn’t know he was nominated until he was notified he’d won.

If I sat here and told you I wasnt crying, Id be lying to ya,” Zavala said. “I was in tears because it it made me realize this is where God needs me. Im a firm believer this is where I need to be for however long I need to be here.

When he found, out he read all of the letters that were written on his behalf. Zavala was presented his award last week in front of the people who made it possible and his colleagues at the sheriff’s office.

For Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona Bar Association, and the sheriffs office and the school to say yep thats thats the guy down there in southern Arizona, thats the guy down there in Naco I was humbled,” Zavala said. “I was humbled beyond belief.

Despite receiving recognition at the state level Zavala said his success will be the impact he has on the students he works with everyday.