COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve funding from Operation Stone Garden on Tuesday, April 23.
$1.4 million in funding will allow the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) to continue its work combating human and drugs trafficking across the border.
The OSG grant has been awarded by the Department of Homeland Security and includes $570,000 to pay for employee, overtime and mileage expenses incurred through its support of the U.S. Border Patrol and other federal partners working to secure the international border.
Additionally, the CCSO will receive $917,052 to buy equipment to assist in activities related to OSG. A majority of the funds, $617,052 will be used to purchase a Simulcast Repeater Site to improve radio communications between all law enforcement agencies in Cochise County, explained Lieutenant Ken Foster at the Board’s regular meeting on Tuesday.
“It will greatly enhance the coverage area throughout Cochise County, including the border regions, and provide much needed coverage ability for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to communicate via radio,” Foster added.
The CCSO will also acquire eight license plate readers, to be deployed along prime roadways more likely to see illegal activity. The technology will alert deputies to “vehicles of interest” that may be transporting narcotics, undocumented aliens, weapons, or illegal proceeds across the border. The cost of this project is $300,000.
OSG funding is a reoccurring annual grant and the Board has expressed concerns in the past regarding the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), and the increase in costs to the County’s long-term unfunded liability for personnel nearing retirement.
However, the CCSO says it has addressed this by mostly deploying deputies who have less than ten years of service, and whose salary and overtime costs do not impact the PSPRS unfunded liability.
Lieutenant Foster added the amount of overtime is also limited to avoid deputy “burn out”.
“I think the limitation is good and I appreciate you doing that,” said Supervisor Ann English, in a recent news release.