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$13.8 million grant to Az police for border security

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$13.8 million grant to Az police for border security

Operation Stonegarden funds pay overtime, buy vehicles & equipment

Arizona law enforcement agencies will receive $13.8 million in grants for border security work, the federal government said Thursday.

The grants, part of the latest round of Operation Stonegarden, were announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in Laredo, Tex.

The five-year-old program pays officers to work overtime on border-related enforcement, and allows police to buy equipment such as four-wheel drive vehicles, night-vision goggles and communications gear.

Southern Arizona agencies will get about $9.6 million, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said. About $3.6 million will go to Pima County police agencies, $3.3 million to Cochise County, and $2.8 million to Santa Cruz County, Giffords said in a release.

Law enforcement in Yuma County will receive $4.2 million.

"Securing the southern border of the United States is a major undertaking requiring the cooperation of federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies," wrote Giffords. "I welcome this funding from the Department of Homeland Security to assist the hard-pressed agencies in Southern Arizona."

The Dempartment of Homeland Security awarded $60 million in Operation Stonegarden funds for 15 states and Puerto Rico. Arizona's share is second only to Texas, which received $17.5 million. The Lone Star State has a 1,254-mile border with Mexico compared with Arizona’s 370 miles.

Nearly 80 percent - $47 million - of the new funding funding will go to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas — up from 59 percent in 2008, DHS said in a release.

"Operation Stonegarden is one part of our overall strategy to provide state, local and tribal law enforcement on the frontlines the resources they need to confront the complex and dynamic challenges that exist along our borders," said Napolitano in announcing the grants.

Napolitano touted the success of the Obama administration's border strategy.

Apprehensions of illegal crossers were down 23 percent last year from the year before and seizures of cartel-related contraband rose significantly across the board — 14 percent more illegal bulk cash, 29 percent more illegal weapons, and 15 percent more illegal drugs were confiscated than the year before, DHS said.

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