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Cochise County ready for state help securing the border

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Posted at 10:32 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 00:32:54-05

COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — One of Governor Doug Ducey's priorities in his State of the State address was to secure the southern border.

Ducey said that the state's budget will include more funding to help local authorities. That was welcome news for Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.

"Our border related issues continue to escalate," Dannels said. "Speaking with the governor yesterday; he sees the urgency of what is going on down here."

Dannels said that in the first six months of the fiscal year, they have used 92% of the overtime budget.

"I can't ever recall that happening," Dannels said. "This is the financial impact of a border that is not secure."

He said this is largely due to the increase in border crossings.

"Our pursuits are up," Dannels said. "They continue to rise which puts my citizens at risk."

In the next budget, Dannels said he expects to receive more than $5 million that will go to border related public safety issues. Dannels met with Governor Ducey on Tuesday and discussed where some of the money will go.

"One thing we are looking to do is setup a border operations center here in Cochise County," Dannels said. "An intel center here that covers not just Cochise County but the whole southern border. There is not a border operations center like that anywhere on the southwest border."

He hopes this helps them with the amount of people coming through.

"In 2021 off our Cochise County Sheriff's Office cameras saw 43,000 illegals with a 39% apprehension working with CBP and my border team, which means 61% got away," Dannels said. "It just tells you the dynamics of what we are dealing with down here. It's a complete challenge."

Dannels is asking for more help from the federal government. He recently spoke with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He said that the federal government will be completing part of the border wall.

"They are going to go in and fix what needs to be fixed," Dannels said. "There is no more addition."

Dannels added that this will help his deputies.

"They're just going to go back and kind of conclude what the previous president started and close those gates, those openings, those gaps, and the roads so that border patrol and my deputies can go down the roads," Dannels said. "I am excited to hear that because that's a year overdue."

Dannels also called the move a step in the right direction. He said there is no timetable on the project yet, but he says it should be sooner rather than later.