- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 19, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - An Arizona sheriff’s department has applied for a federal grant supporting security efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border despite county officials rejecting the money last year.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier told the Arizona Daily Star newspaper in a story published Monday that he expects his department to be awarded about $2 million from Operation Stonegarden, a program intended to help agencies along the border pay overtime and buy equipment to coordinate efforts with federal agencies.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw from the $1.4 million grant last year. Supervisors will have to vote to accept any funds awarded this year.

“I really believe in Stonegarden funding, and I believe in the efficacy of it and the public safety value,” Napier said. “I don’t think it unnecessarily entangles the department in what are federal immigration activities.”

If supervisors approve the funding, Napier said he would welcome the guidance of the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission, which was created last year to advise the use of Stonegarden funding.

Justice Alliance: Indivisible Southern Arizona, a Tucson group that opposes parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda, opposes the county accepting the federal funds, spokesman Steve Diamond said.

If deputies are collaborating with federal immigration agencies, some in the community would be less likely to report crimes, Diamond said.

“Operation Stonegarden is conducive to racial profiling and discrimination on the part of sheriff’s deputies,” Diamond said.

As the largest border county, Pima County should be included in the national discussion about border security, Napier said.

“It’s unthinkable to me that we would not want to be at the table for something that has a serious, national focus right now - that we would actually withdraw from the table,” Napier said.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.tucson.com

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