Arizona Bill Would Require Counties to Accept Federal Law-Enforcement Funding
By David Jaroslav | December 21, 2018
Back on September 4, over the strident objections of Sheriff Mark Napier (R), the Board of Supervisors of Pima County, Arizona voted to reject any further funds from the federal Stonegarden grant program. In response, Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) has introduced House Bill (HB) 2001, which requires counties to accept federal law-enforcement funds.
Operation Stonegarden is a grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), itself part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Stonegarden funds are specifically for state, local and tribal law-enforcement agencies in border states and meant to “[i]ncrease capability to prevent, protect against, and respond to border security issues” as well as “[i]ncrease coordination and collaboration among Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies.” Mostly, the funds tend to be used for new equipment and for personnel overtime.
The program allocated $55 million in grants in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and was appropriated $85 million for FY2018. Napier’s office has been a recipient of Stonegarden grant funds for the past twelve years, and this year received over $1.4 million, until the supervisors decided continuing to accept the funds might mean closer cooperation with the Trump Administration’s immigration enforcement priorities, so they’d rather their county go without.
Introducing HB 2001, Representative Finchem said, “[i]t’s intellectually dishonest and utterly disingenuous for the Pima County Board of Supervisors to claim that they care about safe streets and safe schools to then strip the money away that helps to interdict that … because they don’t like who’s in the president’s office,” describing the county supervisors’ actions as a “juvenile temper tantrum.”
His bill would require counties to accept not only Stonegarden funds, but any “federal grant monies, award monies and other monies … intended to supplement the approved budget of [a] law enforcement or prosecution agency if the … agency is otherwise eligible and qualified.” Some of those federal grants, like the Justice Department’s Byrne JAG and Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) programs, have more explicit strings attached to them than Stonegarden. Those grants require local governments taking them to certify they don’t adhere to certain sanctuary policies.
The Arizona Legislature’s regular session convenes January 14, 2019. HB 2001 was the first bill filed in the House, so hopefully that means it’ll be one of the first considered.