(The Center Square) – Sheriff’s departments in rural Arizona counties are sending deputies to Cochise County to assist with border security efforts as the crisis persists in southern Arizona.
The Arizona Sheriff’s Association released a group statement explaining that departments in Coconino, Apache, Navajo, Yavapai and Pinal counties see sending some officers down to the border as a preventative measure.
“Criminal gangs that smuggle drugs and people across the border often end up in Coconino County and threaten our law enforcement and residents,” Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll said in a statement, as his county includes Flagstaff and Sedona.
“I’d rather deter those criminals at the border and stop them from using our county as a transit corridor,” he continued.
Cochise County is in the Tucson sector, which is currently the most active on the southern border. Tucson saw 373,625 encounters in fiscal year 2023, according to Customs and Border Protection data. In September, they had a higher number of encounters than any sector at 51,001. Arizona in total had nearly 60,000 border encounters last month, The Center Square reported.
“We are grateful that law enforcement from across the state are converging in southern Arizona to curb the human and drug smuggling,” Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said in the joint statement with sheriffs. “This show of force sends a strong message to the cartels that Arizona is serious about tackling these criminal gangs.”
The decision to send down law enforcement officers from other areas is one component of the “Safe Street II Task Force” intended to tackle various kinds of border crime, such as smuggling. According to the news release, officers from other levels of government will also be involved in the effort.
Dannels regularly holds roundtables with officials outside of his own scope on how to tackle the crisis. On Thursday, Dannels met with people from both the federal government and the Hobbs administration, according to KVOA.