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'This is a bad bill for the City of Sierra Vista': Mayor, police chief oppose HRC 2060

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 17, 2024

SIERRA VISTA (KGUN) — The Arizona state legislature recently passed HRC 2060, which would make illegally crossing the southern border a state crime. The state mandate would make it local law enforcement’s responsibility to press charges and the court system's to prosecute. It doesn't include funding for the extra personnel or overtime.

"This is a bad bill for the City of Sierra Vista," Sierra Vista Mayor Clea McCaa said.

His feelings were echoed by Sierra Vista Police Chief Chris Hiser.

“To actually have to shoulder this new law puts quite a burden on the City of Sierra Vista,” he said.

If voters approve the bill in November, Hiser says the Sierra Vista Police Department (SVPD) will have to add nine new officers and new support staff; something the city says they don’t have funding for.

"We want to keep our officers available to handle all the other things going on in our city; traffic accidents, domestic violence, all those things we need to stay available for that," he said.

Anything like that would add two to three officers a shift. McCaa says this bill does not support local law enforcement because it could take officers off the streets, which is where they should be to keep the community safe.

"If you support our local law enforcement and our county resources, county law enforcement, you cannot support this bill," McCaa said. "We have a community to take care of. We have a county to take care of. And we're going to take care of our county and our local community, but we need the federal government to do their part."

Hiser says it would be more resourceful to continue to partner with federal agencies, like they do with Operation Stonegarden — a program that covers the costs of overtime for officers working on border-related missions.

“With this bill, there doesn't come any funding for local government to to enforce this, and this is going to put a burden...that will divert us from our mission of protecting and serving our cities,” Hiser said.

McCaa says what's happening at the border shouldn’t fall on local governments to fix.

"This is a federal issue," he said. "The federal government needs to effectively staff this."

McCaa and Hiser say they wish they could have been a part of the conversation before the bill passed, to provide input based on what they're seeing.

“We know what's going on on the ground," McCaa said. "It would have been nice...for them to contact us to get our input, but it wasn't done.”

Voters will decide in November whether or not HRC 2060 is implemented.

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Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing alexis.ramanjulu@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook.