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Tucson Police Department turns down hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jan 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-21 20:57:24-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson police will no longer accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from Operation Stonegarden. This comes after a request to use part of the money for humanitarian aid was denied. The grant program provides federal money for things like overtime and equipment when local governments help enforce border security.

A TPD spokesperson says leadership decided it was in the best interest for the department and the community they serve to no longer participate in the program. The Tucson Mayor says she whole heartedly supports the decision, but the Tucson Police Association says it’s bad for public safety.

Immigration is a hot button issue across the country and in Tucson.

“Improving people's lives instead of clamping down and putting people in cages so that's how I feel ,” said Tucson Resident Sarah Jacobson.

People are divided about the laws and who should enforce them.

“I'm not saying the immigrants are unsafe, but they are here unlawfully and I think the law needs to be enforced.”

The Tucson Police Department recently decided to pull out of Operation Stonegarden. Basically, turning down federal grant money for border security expenses including overtime and equipment.

“That is federal money that is available to Tucson or this area we should utilize it,” said Tucson Resident Lucy Burciaga.

The Tucson Police Officers Association issued a statement saying the decision is bad for public safety.

Mayor Regina Romero also sent a statement saying she supports the decision. There statements are below.

This comes as the Pima County board of supervisors tries to decide if the sheriff's department should continue with the Stonegarden program. The federal government denied their request to use some of the money for costs incurred at the Casa Alitas shelter for migrants seeking asylum. The board of supervisors postponed a vote on that today pushing the vote to February 4th.

“The Tucson Police Officers Association believes that the loss of the Stonegarden Grant is bad for public safety in our community. For years, this federally funded grant has paid for officer overtime to do proactive, onsite activity in high crime areas. The Stonegarden deployments have resulted in hundreds of arrests that would not have occurred without this federal money. Additionally, the Stonegarden deployments have taken countless guns and drugs off the streets of Tucson.

Without these federally funded overtime deployments, an already understaffed police department will have a hard time addressing these crime issues."

Thank you for reaching out,
Tony Archibald, President
Tucson Police Officers Association

Mayor Romero’s statement on TPD’s decision to cease its use of Stonegarden funds:

“With this decision, Tucson is furthering its
commitment to ensuring that we are a city that remains welcoming to all - regardless of status or background. The Stonegarden grant, as administered under the Trump Administration, undermined community trust by increasing the involvement of Border Patrol and ran contrary to TPD’s goal of ensuring that all Tucsonans feel safe and protected.

I wholeheartedly support Chief Magnus with this decision as well as his efforts to continue building trust between our community and TPD. We are lucky to have one of the most community-oriented, and best trained police departments in the country.”