County may accept the $1.4 Million it had rejected

Money is Federal grant for border enforcement

TUCSON, Ariz - Would you turn down almost one and a half million dollars? Pima County Supervisors did this week.

They voted three to two to reject a Federal grant for border security work.
        
But they may reconsider that vote soon.

Homeland Security asks local law enforcement to help with border security issues.  Through Operation Stone Garden it issues grants for overtime and extra equipment.

Pima County Supervisors routinely accepted the grants until this week. The board's two Republicans voted to accept about $1.4 million dollars. But the three Democrats voted to reject it.
          
Supervisor Richard Elias didn't want the county enforcing Federal immigration policy. Sheriff Mark Napier says he leaves that to the Feds.  

"This is about the interdiction of bad actors along the border areas in Pima County; those being drug traffickers and human traffickers and bandits and coyotes and other criminal justice and public safety problems in areas that normally we're less able to get to simply because we don't have the resources to get there."
      
Supervisor Sharon Bronson worried the overtime would raise the county's pension costs.
        
Sheriff Napier says the grant covers pension costs too.

Federal border security grants may go towards equipment the Sheriff's Department uses for more than border security--things they use for day to day work like communications gear, surveillance gear and off-road vehicles."
         
Supervisor Ramon Valadez says now he's convinced accepting the grants helps deputies protect county residents in remote areas.

"They respond in Three Points, in Ajo, along State Route 83.  There's been an increase in the level of service the Sheriff is able to provide through much of this funding."
       
Valadez says he'll ask for a new vote on the grants. Changing his vote to yes should be enough to accept them.
 

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