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“Border security requires constant vigilance…”
Sheriff’s deputies working overtime in patrolling routes commonly used by smugglers and drug traffickers will have their salaries paid in part by federal funds aimed at border-region security.
Operation Stonegarden, which allocates federal funds for support of officers’ overtime pay and the purchase of vital law enforcement equipment, will send as much as $200,000 to La Salle County for the coming year, according to Sheriff Anthony Zertuche and US Congressman Henry Cuellar this week.
The congressman made the announcement Monday, adding that he believes the federal financial support of the additional work put in by county deputies is critical to maintaining border security.
For their part, deputies in counties along the border and in counties as much as fifty to a hundred miles beyond the border itself will be able to sign up for additional duty and earn the pay that is beyond the budget of a locally funded sheriff’s office.
“The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office will once again benefit from Stonegarden funding tremendously,” Sheriff Zertuche said.
“This funding will be used to cover overtime salaries for the deputies working specifically in border security-related patrol,” Zertuche added. “It will also be used for equipment that our agency will use in achieving our mission of keeping our community safe.”
The sheriff has indicated throughout the year that effective border security patrol is possible only through close collaboration between law enforcement agencies. The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office works alongside the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, the US Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the US Marshals Service, and sheriffs’ offices and police departments in neighboring counties.
“We will continue to work side by side with all of the local, state, and federal agencies to ensure everyone’s safety and security,” the sheriff said.
“This grant will impact the more than 7,500 residents of La Salle County,” Rep. Cuellar noted in a prepared statement, writing also that he believes the funds will pay overtime for the officers as well as enable the sheriff to purchase “new equipment and radio communication technology.”
This year’s fund allocation is the largest ever awarded to La Salle County, which received $183,000 from Operation Stonegarden last year. The county government has applied for and received the funding each year that the program has been active.
“Border security in Texas requires constant vigilance,” the congressman wrote. “These funds will provide much-needed support for our law enforcement who are working tirelessly to keep our border communities safe.
“As vice chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, I will continue to ensure the men and women of law enforcement have the necessary funding to keep our South Texas communities safe and secure,” Rep. Cuellar wrote. “I want to thank La Salle County Sheriff Anthony Zertuche, as well as all local, state, and federal officers for their commitment to helping to secure our southern border.”