During the past few years, the issue of securing our borders has escalated throughout the United States. Although this problem has created heated debates from both sides of the issue across the country, in Arizona it is particularly a hot topic.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has been very outspoken about the immediate need to secure our southern border to protect the citizens of the United States from both drug smuggling and human trafficking and the crimes associated with both.
Unfortunately, individuals have now felt the need to make threats against his life because of his stance on the issue. Threats that have been deemed “credible” by outside law enforcement agencies have been forwarded to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for action. Additionally other threats against Sheriff Babeu and his staff have also been received via direct communication with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Deputy Steve Henry two weeks ago asked Pinal County Manager Terry Doolittle and Assistant County Manager Manny Gonzalez for funding so Sheriff Babeu could be provided with a small Security Detail temporarily until the threats against his life stopped. Chief Deputy Henry said, "Any threat against an elected official is serious and they usually come from upset citizens. We have information of additional threats from the Mexican Mafia and Drug Cartel members that are placing a 'green light' on our Sheriff. It is one thing to threaten an elected official, yet threats against the Sheriff by foreign born criminals raise this to a new level."
At this time, Sheriff Babeu has made the decision not to request funding or the reallocation of positions to provide for a Security Detail because of our already stretched budget and the fact it would only take away from our limited staffing. Pinal County is nearly 5,400 sq miles and is listed among America's top 5 fastest growing counties; yet no additional sworn Deputies have been provided. Staffing is approximately 1 Deputy per thousand residents in unincorporated areas, which is far less than the average of 2.2 Officers per thousand residents that is the law enforcement standard in our region. In addition to the low staffing levels, Pinal County remains ground zero for drug and human smuggling.
Sheriff Babeu has vowed to continue the fight to secure our borders and fight drug smuggling and human trafficking across our state. Sheriff Babeu stated, “We don't have enough Deputies to respond to local emergencies and to protect our Pinal families. I understand this threat, yet I will not run in fear or change my support for SB1070 and my demands for President Obama to secure our border with 3,000 armed soldiers in Arizona and start building the fence again. I'm always armed and as every law enforcement member knows, we always have to be aware of our surroundings and possible threats.”