Herald/Review: Border security shouldn’t be political issue

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Note: When he ran for governor in 2014, Ducey pledged to protect the border, and the Strike Force is physical evidence that he has fulfilled that promise.

The Herald/Review: Border security shouldn’t be political issue

The Herald/Review
Editorial Board

SIERRA VISTA — Recent media coverage of Gov. Ducey’s Border Strike Force calls into question the effectiveness and transparency of the special law enforcement unit.

Statements from two border county sheriffs disparaging the task force and the governor’s endorsement of the program are viewed as timely political rhetoric rather than support for the effort.

That’s not the case in Cochise County.

Sheriff Mark Dannels reports that the Border Strike Force is effective in the field and an essential piece in a collaborative effort to battle smuggling and other criminal activity. In his own words, with more than three decades of experience in law enforcement, Dannels says “ … it’s never been this good.”

Further evidence of that statement comes from a recent report by the Arizona Attorney General’s office, which is making a public appeal for more money to hire additional prosecutors for its southern unit. The agency reports that it needs at least eight more attorneys to handle its increased workload as a result of what the Border Strike Force has accomplished.

In fiscal year 2018, there were 90 active strike force cases handled by prosecutors in the Southern Arizona White Collar and Criminal Enterprise Division, up from 69 cases in fiscal year 2017. That’s about 14 percent of all of the cases the southern Arizona division took on in fiscal year 2018, and the agency hasn’t received additional resources to handle the increased workload.

We understand the political game that has made the Border Strike Force and the governor’s outspoken support of this effort an issue in the run up to the Nov. 6 election. Both Ducey and his challenger, David Garcia, have turned the work of the task force and its effectiveness into an issue that they hope will capture votes. When he ran for governor in 2014, Ducey pledged to protect the border, and the Strike Force is physical evidence that he has fulfilled that promise. Garcia’s camp is questioning the effectiveness of the unit, and arguing that his opponent is using border violence as a fear tactic.

Regardless of the politics or the opinions of sheriffs from neighboring counties, this program is working in Cochise County.

The Border Strike Force has been the conduit for cooperation between agencies on a scale not previously accomplished by law enforcement working in the county. It would be a tragic loss if the progress that has made in stemming the tide of crime and illegal immigration was lost or reversed because of the politics.

Crime and border security should be apolitical. Unfortunately in the 2018 election, that’s not the case.


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