BISBEE — The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office will receive a $1.487 million grant from the Operation Stone Garden program for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
County Board of Supervisors members Peggy Judd, Ann English and, by phone, Tom Borer unanimously approved the grant during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
CCSO deputy Lt. Ken Foster presented the agenda item and stated the grant will provide $570,000 for overtime, mileage and benefits. The sum is $130,000 less than last year.
Foster explained deputies are deployed in support of Operation Stone Garden seven days a week through assignments provided through the Naco Brian Terry Border Patrol Station, the Douglas Border Patrol Station and the Willcox Border Patrol Station. Deputies contact the stations when they come on duty and then assigned to a patrol area.
“Deputies also participate in Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats (ACTT) Operations with our federal partners and other local agencies where funds from this grant pay for the overtime and mileage,” added Foster.
Thanks to the grant, there are more deputies on duty in high-traffic and remote areas which do not necessarily get patrolled regularly due to low staffing, he continued. It allows for an additional 10 deputies a day to augment normal patrol shifts throughout the county.
There are 26 employees who have less than 10 years of service working Operation Stone Garden. The additional pay for deputies has a positive impact on the county economy, according to Cochise College chief economist Robert Carreira, said Foster.
CCSO also received $917,052 for equipment which will include a purchase of a Simulcast Repeater Site, with all associated equipment, to further enhance communications capabilities between all law enforcement agencies in the county and eight license plate readers, he said.
CCSO built a 700 MHz, digital, P25 truck radio system at 11 tower sites throughout Cochise County in conjunction with the Sierra Vista Police Department. However, in order to make the communication system countywide, another simulcast repeater site was required on the east boundary of Fort Huachuca at a cost of $617,052.
“In this boundary area, there is already a tower that can be used for the development of a simulcast repeater. Adding a simulcast repeater site will enhance the existing radio system in Cochise County,” Foster noted.
SVPD and the Arizona U.S. Marshals Service already use the 700 MHz trunked system, he explained. The U.S. Border Patrol is in favor of the availability of the system.
“This radio system is capable of networking with other state and federal radio systems,” Foster said. “Due to the radio coverage being provided by this radio system, Border Patrol or other Federal agencies could easily program their radios for use on this system. It will greatly enhance their coverage area throughout Cochise County including the border regions and provide much needed coverage the ability for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to communicate via radio.”
The eight license readers, at a cost of $300,000, will indicate if a license number has been flagged by the ports of entry and has been entered into a system. If a deputy gets a flag on a scanned plate, a stop can ensue to “uncover vehicles and/or persons of interest transporting narcotics, undocumented aliens, weapons or illegal proceeds from Mexico into the United States or vice versa,” he told the supervisors.
The system, to be used along known corridors, will help the CCSO protect county residents and the country from criminals and terrorists.
Foster said, “CCSO will share the images and intelligence gained from readers with our federal and state partners. The information sharing from this project will further aid in our efforts to secure or border and to make our communities safer.”