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Cochise Co. Sheriff Dannels: "Our borders are the gateway of crime"

Southern Arizona law enforcement officials share experience with out-of-state colleagues
Posted at 12:04 PM, Jun 08, 2023

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — The Cochise County Sheriff's Office hosted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and seven sheriffs from across the country. The conversation of the roundtable was centered around the border security and immigration.

“Our borders are the gateway of crime in so many ways," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. "If we don’t support those that wear a badge is the role of law. We’re in trouble in this country.”

RELATED: Florida Governor plans coalition for border issues

The sheriffs were from Arizona, Texas, Florida and Idaho. Despite being from all different states each of the sheriffs shared stories of encounters their teams have had with people who have crossed the border illegally.

“My little county is probably not their destination, but they come through us and we feel them when the come through us,” said Graham County Sheriff, PJ Allred.

Southern Arizona is know for high speed chases between law enforcement and smugglers. The smugglers taking people who cross the border are racing through rural counties, including Graham and Cochise, in order to get to larger cities in the state. Allred said the what's left behind from those passing through are drugs.

Local law enforcement say these chases and an increase in local crime rates is why they are pleading for help.

“It’s unfortunate that this small county is garnering as much attention, but we have a serious problem with with public safety here and with people risking the citizens lives,” said Director of Public Safety for the City of Willcox, Dale Hadfield.

Dannels and the other sheriffs agree they need the help of the federal government to help with border security. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he supports a closed border and believes that some of the policies and legislation he's enforced in Florida could work along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is not about politics folks. This is about doing what’s right. That everyone in this room that works for government have taken an oath to do,” Dannels said.

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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.