The Pima County Board of Supervisors’ Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission, which was formed to oversee the acceptance of Operation Stonegarden grant monies, continues to flounder. At the same time an Arizona lawmaker is trying to wrestle control of grant monies away from county supervisors and bestow it on the State’s sheriffs.
For years, the Pima County supervisors willingly accepted Operation Stonegarden money and other grants linked to drug interdiction and human smuggling. As part of the “Resistance Movement,” formed to obstruct the Trump administration, Supervisors Sharon Bronson, Richard Elias, and Ramon Valadez voted to reject Stonegarden monies this year unless certain conditions were met. The formation of the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Committee was one of the conditions.
Supervisor Ally Miller was the only member of the Board to question the wisdom the Committee’s creation. In short order, the ill-conceived Committee’s areas of oversight morphed and grew at the prompting of Supervisor Steve Christy.
Rather than increase confidence in the Sheriff’s Office use of monies, the Committee has simply blocked any funding.
On Tuesday, the supervisors will consider an agenda item proposed by Christy to finally disband the dysfunctional Committee.
What is the point?
Recent Committee meetings reveal that too few, if any, of the Committee’s members even understand its purpose at all. While member Isabel Garcia is demanding a broader scope for the Committee, other members have questioned why it exists.
Committee members and observers say the meetings have become little more than politically driven well-choreographed attacks on law enforcement replete with false claims and innuendo.
What is most remarkable about the whole controversy is that the Pima County Sheriff’s Office is being denied the funds by the Committee and supervisors Valadez, Elias, and Bronson due to the notion that the deputies are “collaborating” with Border Patrol. However, member Terry Parish, a retired officer with the Sheriff’s Office, explained to Board members during the December 10, 2018, what “collaboration” means:
Statistics provided by the Sheriff’s Office to Supervisor Ally Miller seem to show that the claims of racial profiling by Garcia and others merely anecdotal:
Too little, but not too late
Although Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier had legal remedies available to him to accept the grant monies, he refused to take action.
Fortunately for Napier, it is believed that Christy proposal will win the day.
On Friday, Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem announced that he has proposed a bill to remove the supervisors from the grant approval process altogether. The bill has a slim chance of passage, but according to House sources, Finchem could not miss the opportunity to jump on the pro-Operation Stonegarden bandwagon at the last minute.
The controversy will likely not diminish soon despite the meager actions of Christy, Napier, and Finchem .
Also on Tuesday, the supervisors will be asked to approve money from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, “to provide for the Border Strike Force Bureau Program, $260,000.00/$86,666.66 General Fund match.”
The Committee sent a letter to the supervisors advising them that the group voted to reject the State’s money:
As co-chairs of the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Committee (CLEPC), we are writing this letter to inform you of that after a thorough discussion, the Committee voted to not recommend the acceptance of the following grant: Arizona Department of Public Safety grant, to provide for the Border Strike Force Bureau Program, $260,000.00/$86,666.66 General Fund match (GTAW 19-54). One of the most voiced concerns was the lack of data to show how this grant affects the community on the ground and what this program actually looks like day to day.
For the three separate Department of Justice grants (GTAM 19-22), (GTAM 19-24), and (GTAM 19-25), to provide for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force $25,000.00, the Committee was unable to procure a vote in favor or against as we had an equal amount of yays and nays on a motion of recommendation.
Once again, a large area of concern is being provided enough information, statistics, and time to properly review the way these grants affect our community. We have requested a thorough and complete grant schedule pending the review of Committee responsibilities and organization by the board on the 18th of December.
For years, the County supervisors have accepted this money without controversy:
|File ID 9449||Addendum||Approved||9/27/2018||10/2/2018||Acceptance – Sheriff State of Arizona – Department of Public Safety, to provide for the Border Strike Task Force, $166,666.66 (GTAW 19-26)|
|File ID 8076||Consent Item||Approved||9/26/2017||10/17/2017||Acceptance – Sheriff State of Arizona – Department of Public Safety, to provide for the AZDPS Border StrikeForce Bureau, State of Arizona – Department of Public Safety and General ($66,666.67) Funds (GTAW 18-24)|
|File ID 7248||Addendum||Approved||3/16/2017||3/21/2017||Acceptance – Sheriff State of Arizona – Department of Public Safety, Amendment No. 1, to provide for the Border Strike Task Force: prosecutorial and jail expenses, Arizona Department of Public Safety Fund, $41,600.00 (GTAM 17-54)|
|File ID 7246||Addendum||Approved||3/16/2017||3/21/2017||Acceptance – Sheriff State of Arizona – Department of Public Safety, to provide for the Border Strike Task Force: prosecutorial and jail expenses, Arizona Department of Public Safety Fund, $125,000.00 (GTAW 17-62)|
|File ID 6490||Consent Item||Approved||8/24/2016||9/6/2016||Acceptance – Sheriff Arizona Department of Public Safety, to provide for the Border Strike Force Bureau, $200,000.00 (GTAW 17-8)|
Acceptance of the money this year will hinge on Valadez’s vote. He has vacillated on his support for law enforcement this year.
The Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday at 130 W. Congress Street (1st Floor), in down town Tucson.