Sheriff William Ponce and the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department have been awarded a grant from D.E.M.A (Arizona Department of Emergency Management and Military Affairs). The grant will provide additional monies to the department under the border security, fencing and technology program. The $3.9 million in funding will allow the Sheriff’s Office to enhance public safety efforts for the next 5 years, according to a press release by Ponce.
Contributions under the program encompass “personnel, equipment, supplies and employee-related benefit costs”, the release said. “Sheriff Ponce’s diligence and progressive leadership efforts continue to aid in the overall safety of the communities of La Paz County. These efforts continue to be recognized by our State and Federal partners thus affording the Office of the Sheriff continued sources of funding during his tenure. Without such tenacity and forward thinking such a grant award amount could not have been achieved.”
The Department says that its 4,500 square mile service area includes “two specific routes commonly used by individuals engaged in illegal activity and trafficking of narcotics, weapons, and smuggling of humans.” They are Interstate 10 and Highway 95, both of which traverse La Paz County.
“These thoroughfares are far too often utilized as primary routes by human traffickers, drug smugglers, as well as sex traffickers. However, to further attempt to avoid detection these criminals have begun utilizing other smaller highways, such as Highways 72 and 60.”
The La Paz County Sheriff’s Office is an Operation Stone Garden partner Agency, which is a federal grant program under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that provides funding and support to state, local and tribal agencies to enhance the security of the United States Borders. This collaboration has established strong ties and working relationships with the U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Arizona Sector, and the local office in Blythe, California. A total of 151,954 miles have been driven by deputies, agents, officers and state troopers involved in La Paz County Stone Garden Operations, of which 250 deployments have occurred through the Sheriff’s Office alone.
“The issue of smuggling and trafficking along our southern borders is an ever-evolving situation and not only affects the border, but our communities across the state of Arizona and our nation,” the release says. “With the additional funding award this grant provides additional personnel to our Sheriff’s Office and allows for the department to become more proactive in crime suppression countywide. These Deputy’s will also be utilized for high visibility policing in areas of the county that we determine to have higher volumes of criminal activity while continuing our dedication to service through proactive policing. Through such partnerships we are continuing to develop strategies and continue to educate our personnel to help further address criminal activity countywide. This Office remains steadfast in providing professional and proactive services to the citizens and visitors of La Paz County.”