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|Sheriff Dever explains why he resigned from Alliance|
|Written by Clayton R. Norman|
|Friday, 11 March 2011 20:12|
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever has strong words about the position he stepped down from last month at the Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats (ACTT) saying that he refused to participate in "federal government hypocrisy and duplicity."
Dever had been asked to represent Arizona Sheriffs at the ACTT, an intelligence-sharing and operational alliance of more than 60 law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona that includes Mexican agencies as well. After attending just a few meetings with other members of the ACTT, though, Dever removed himself from the group.
"I missed the first few meetings," Dever said. "And at the first meeting I attended I still had a lot of questions. I listened to the discussion and it didn't look or feel right."
It didn't look or feel right, Dever said, because it looked and felt eerily familiar.
"The question I presented to them," Dever said, "was 'how does this particular organization differ from ones that are already in existence?' The vision [the ACTT] tried to encompass already existed."
David Jimarez, a Border Patrol spokesman, said the goal of the ACTT, which was formed in 2009, is to "deny, degrade and disrupt" cross-border illegal operations (i.e. drug and human trafficking). The way to this goal, Jimarez said, is through communication.
"The whole purpose, basically," Jimarez said. "Is that we have
If this sounds familiar it's because it is.
The homepage for the Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Arizona Partnership says that organization's goal is to "facilitate federal, state and local multi-agency task forces and other partnerships to increase the safety of Arizona's citizens, by substantially reducing drug trafficking and money laundering, thereby reducing drug-related crime and violence."
HIDTA, which has been operating since 1990 is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The ACTT, pursuing similar ends, falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"My offer to them," Dever said, "was why are we doing both [the ACTT and HIDTA]? And there was no good answer."
The redundancy irked Dever.
Redundancy wasn't all, though— numbers he heard from ACTT leadership at meetings seemed fishy.
"[Secretary of Homeland Security Janet] Napolitano touting the
The numbers, Dever said, weren't necessarily false, but came out of different agencies, all part of the alliance, going about their business— but not, however, necessarily from ACTT-specific operations. The numbers also painted a rosier picture than what he sees on the border, he said.
"I couldn't be part of what I saw as a charade," Dever said. "Touting the ACTT and its accomplishments was a way of giving the impression that the border is secure. That simply is not the case in my experience. The border is very unsettled and un-secure in not only many places but in many, many ways.
"Janet [Napolitano] likes to say the numbers don't lie, but I say the numbers don't always tell the truth."
The real rub, Dever said, is political posturing by the current administration to promote the perception that the border is secure. Because Republicans in Congress refuse to discuss immigration reform until the border is "secure" Dever says the Obama administration is pushing that perception.
"You can blame one administration or the other. The Bush administration did the same thing— this is about one party trying to romance the vote away from the other party."
The vote he refers to is that of Latinos.
The problem with relying on statistics to assess border security is that stats don't address people's lived experiences on the border, Dever said.
"The numbers are interesting but they don't define the quality of life issues that are true indicators— a sense or feeling of security and safety and well-being," said Dever.
A major problem with the debate over immigration, Dever said, is that no one has established a true, working definition for the term 'border security.'
Border Patrol and DHS officials have failed to come up with a
Asked for his own definition Dever said: "when Herb and Martha can both go to town to go shopping instead of one of them staying home because their home will be broken into if they leave" that will reflect a secure border.
Dever said the equation to get to that point is fairly simple.
"You need to know every single time there is an incursion across the border," Dever said. "And you need a competent and predictable response every time. They [illegal crossers] need to know that they are more likely to get caught and punished than not. Neither of those conditions exist now."
Dever said he believes the technology to makes this happen already exists and could be put into use at a much lower cost than Boeing's defunct virtual fence.
Dever said that just because he stepped down from his position with the ATCC doesn't mean he doesn't support the alliances goals. He said the Cochise County Sheriff's department will continue to work "shoulder to shoulder" with the Alliance.
But he remains nonplussed with what he referred to as the "politicization of the whole dang thing."
Customs and Border Protection issued a statement upon Dever's abdication that read, in part: "We are disappointed that the Sheriff has decided to forgo this opportunity for real operational partnership in this first-of-its-kind law enforcement effort."
Numbers provided by Border Patrol indicate the Alliance is responsible for 270,000 apprehension and the seizure of more than 1.6 million pounds of marijuana, 3,800 pounds of cocaine, 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine as well as $13 million in undeclared U.S. currency and 268 weapons since 2009.