EL CENTRO â€“ The Imperial County Sheriffâ€™s Office (ICSO) received notification February 9 that the United States Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), awarded Imperial County $2.2 million under the Operation Stonegarden Program (OPSG).
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve and accept the Operation Stonegarden Grant and authorized Sheriff-Coroner Raymond Loera to sign the award documents for the grant including the Grant Assurances and Memorandum of Understanding with participating agencies during Tuesdayâ€™s regular board meeting.
The grant funds will be used to enhance manpower in the form of increased uniformed patrol along the US-Mexico border corridors. In addition, use of the funds will include enhancing the cooperation and coordination between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in securing the United States border along routes of ingress from the international border.
The Imperial County Sheriffâ€™s Office (ICSO) will act as the trustee of the grant funds.
According to Sheriff Loera, ICSO will use most of the funds to pay for overtime and related benefits, vehicle maintenance and equipment.
District 1 Supervisor John Renison asked if the funds would also be utilized to cover the Sheriffâ€™s cost for the patrolling currently taking place in the city of Calexico due a police officer shortage in the city.
â€œThe city of Calexico is down substantially in police officers and we did assist them a few weeks ago due to the increase of vehicle thefts they were having and were able to place our Stonegarden units in that area,â€ said Sheriff Loera. “We have helped the city of Calexico on several occasions, but not currently.â€
Sheriff Loera assured the board the ICSO is always on standby and available at any time to assist Imperial County cities.
Chairman of the Board Jesus â€œJackâ€ Terrazas said his only concern was that the city of Calexico could potentially rely too much on the Sheriff’s department instead of focusing on building up their police department, and asked Sheriff Loera to keep the board informed if this were to occur.
â€œWe need to know if they are relying too much on you,” said Terrazas. “The city of Calexico needs to get their act together and fill in those positions.â€
Sheriff Loera said he has been monitoring the situation for quite a while and assured the board it would be brought to their attention if that was the case.