Two border sheriffs are receiving more than half a million in extra law-enforcement funds to pay for border-security programs, staffing and safety equipment, fulfilling a key campaign promise made by Gov. Doug Ducey.
The additional $557,000 to Cochise and Yuma sheriffs will pay for the counties’ border security programs, staffing and safety equipment. The plan, submitted by Ducey’s top cop, Frank Milstead of the Department of Public Safety, received a favorable review in June by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
In a statement to The Arizona Republic, Ducey said he wants to ensure law-enforcement officers have the resources they need: “This additional funding will be crucial in our collective efforts to protect Arizonans. We’ll continue to work closely with the county sheriffs to make sure they have the support they need to carry out their critical mission.”
Each year, the state distributes about $2.4 million from an account of Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission funds. The money must be spent on border security and police operations. In addition to funding from that account, counties receive other GIITEM money.
Under the Ducey administration’s plan, the Maricopa and Pima sheriff’s offices will take a hit to offset the increases to Cochise and Yuma. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office — led by Ducey campaign supporter Joe Arpaio — is getting $529,400 less than last year while the Pima County Sheriff’s Office is receiving $108,900 less.
On Monday, Arpaio said he “agreed to” the greater distribution to the two counties.
“I’m trying to be a team player,” he said. “They asked me if I would be okay and I said ... ‘We’ll still survive.’ ”
A few other counties, including Santa Cruz, Pinal and Graham, see slight or moderate increases.
Eben Bratcher, a captain with the Yuma Sheriff’s Office, said the money will “go a long ways towards helping us to offset the costs that we have incurred by prosecuting illegal aliens who are smuggling drugs that the U.S. Attorney’s Office doesn’t prosecute.”
Since the Yuma sheriff began tracking those costs in October 2014, the office has detained more than 115 immigrants who have accrued more than 10,000 bed days, he said. Costs have exceeded $800,000, he said.
During the heated 2014 election, Ducey, when asked about his plan for solving the border problem, said he’s “for an all-of-the-above approach.”
“Whatever it takes, whether that’s more fencing, satellites or new technology,” he said during a June 2014 candidate’s summit in Pinal County. “As your chief executive officer, I will re-prioritize law enforcement, DPS and the National Guard so we protect our border.”
Ducey said he would prioritize public-safety spending to focus on the drug cartels and human traffickers. He said he would prioritize federal funds allocated to Arizona to focus on border security.
Later, his team began researching how much of the state’s law-enforcement budget could be reallocated to pay for new technology, satellites and National Guard troops at the border.
In one campaign ad that featured the U.S.-Mexico border fence, Ducey said, “Fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors. We’ll get this done. If Barack Obama won’t do the job, Arizonans will.”
Ducey’s administration said the half-million dollars for the border counties is an initial step of the governor’s larger border-security plan.
The GIITEM funds are raised from fees assessed on fines, violations, forfeitures and penalties imposed by the courts for criminal offenses as well as civil vehicle violations.
The counties must spend the money on:
- Detention and correctional officers who serve within jails and prisons to gather intelligence from inmates about illegal activities along the border.
- Sheriff’s deputies and police officers who work on a task force that investigates border-related crimes, such as drug trafficking and human smuggling.
- Hiring 10 deputies who focus on border-related crimes for the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.
- Border-security efforts for all 15 counties, such as staff, equipment and any expenses to help ensure the border is secure.