Friday, May 27, 2011
This is one installment in a 13-part series of multimedia stories by Fronteras: The Changing America Desk that investigates our role in the illegal narcotics trade.
SAN DIEGO The Department of Homeland Security's Operation Stonegarden pays for equipment or overtime pay for officers fighting drug-related crime. The program started in 2008, encouraging collaboration among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, in an effort to beef up border security and fight drug-related crime around the country.
But the program is experiencing cuts at a time when many officials in border states say they need an extra boost to fight so-called "spillover" crime.
"We've been able to show that when everybody comes together and leverages the resources we are being effective -- and we can be effective," said Capt. Dave Myers, who manages Operation Stonegarden for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. "We're spending those dollars that have come to San Diego County wisely. Does that mean the threat down South has changed? No."
In 2010, San Diego County got its biggest Stonegarden grant yet -- $14 million to be shared among a variety of local and state law enforcement agencies.
"We've been able to show that we can stop a lot of it right at the border," said Myers.
By 2012, Operation Stonegarden will see a 15-percent budget reduction, capped at $55 million nationally.