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Willcox Police Department receives grant funding to help with technology upgrades

Posted at 5:10 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 20:10:35-04

WILLCOX, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Willcox Police Department received $1.37 million from the Department of Emergency and Military Affair, earlier this month to improve technology that police say will help with smuggling from the southern border.

Willcox Police Chief, Dale Hadfield, says they purchased license plate cameras, radios, computers and vehicles with the money. He says it was important to upgrade their technology because their streets are being used as a route for smugglers—for both migrant and drugs.

“They are not recording all the time," Hadfield said of the cameras. "You and I are here talking in front of it and it’s not taking pictures of us. The only time it takes a picture is as a vehicle goes by.”

The cameras are located throughout the city, near entrance and exit points.

“It’s not on our forefront of who’s coming into town, but if you commit a crime and come into town, or if you commit a crime and try and leave town, we obviously want to know about that,” Hadfield said.

The cameras are not monitored constantly, but law enforcement will be notified if a license plate that's already in open police reports is captured.

"These are kind of an after-the-fact investigation tool," Hadfield said. "These aren’t preventing crime, but they have the ability to help a detective solve a crime. The likelihood of us identifying the suspect with these cameras goes up exponentially because we’ll know a rough time frame, and then we have a place to start.”

He says these cameras are helping a department with only 11 officers have more eyes on the road to catch more criminal activity that passes through the city.

The grant money was also used to buy new radios that allow them to communicate with law enforcement across the state. They also purchased new vehicles, including two canine units and a faster car for pursuits.

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 or by connecting on Facebook.