Tucson police withdraws from federal border-security grant

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The Tucson Police Department is withdrawing from the Operation Stonegarden border security grant program after claims the program does not align with their mission, police department leaders said.

The state Department of Homeland Security was notified of the decision in a December email that Tucson police will no longer participate in the program, effective Jan. 30, Arizona Daily Star reported Friday.

Homeland Security administers the grant, officials said.

The email was obtained by the Arizona Daily Star this week through a public records request.

Homeland Security is working with the police department to reconcile past equipment purchases and any residual funding, Assistant Police Chief Kevin Hall said in the email.

“It has become increasingly difficult to blend the stated performance metrics/desired outcomes of the grant with Tucson Police Department’s mission and the expectations of the community we serve,” Hall said in the email, citing the government’s lack of willingness to allow some of that money be used to assist asylum-seekers coming through Tucson and nearby communities.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The decision comes days before Pima County is scheduled Tuesday to discuss whether to also cease acceptance of the federal funding, which supplies costs associated with policing border security, county officials said.

The Board of Supervisors voted to accept the grant, with the condition that $200,000 be used to overcome costs incurred at the Casa Alitas shelter for migrants seeking asylum, but the request was denied by federal officials, county officials said.

Not accepting the grant could hinder public safety in the region, some officials said.

“For years, this federally funded grant has paid for officer overtime to do proactive, onsite activity in high crime areas. The Stonegarden deployments have resulted in hundreds of arrests that would not have occurred without this federal money,” said Tony Archibald, president of the Tucson Police Officers Association.