Arizona law enforcement agencies will receive $13.8 million in the latest round of Operation Stonegarden grants announced Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security.
The five-year-old program gives border law enforcement agencies money to pay officers to work overtime shifts aimed at enhancing border security. The money also lets agencies buy equipment such as four-wheel-drive trucks, radios and night-vision goggles.
In Laredo, Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on Thursday the department was giving out $60 million nationwide for the program, $47 million of which is assigned to Southwest border states.
Arizona will receive the second- largest allotment, behind only Texas, which gets $17.5 million. California will receive $12.1 million and New Mexico $4 million.
Including this newest cycle, Arizona law enforcement agencies have been allotted about $51 million under the program since it was launched in 2006.
That accounts for just less than one-fourth of the $225 million allotted nationwide.
Politicians and law enforcement leaders laud the program as a model for using local law enforcement to help control the country's borders. Arizona sheriffs and police chiefs say it gives them funds for border security work they are doing anyway.
But critics worry that putting city, state and county police in a border enforcement role leaves the program susceptible to racial profiling and creating community distrust of law enforcement.
A 2009 investigation by the Arizona Daily Star that analyzed how 10 Arizona agencies had used the $7.3 million they had spent so far found that the program is loosely monitored, has no clear objective and no benchmarks for success.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org