Rural ranchers in Southern Arizona have been given a new way to call for help in emergencies. Sheriff-issued radios, that are normally reserved for law enforcement officers, have been distributed to 31 ranchers along the Arizona-Mexico border. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office hopes these new handheld radios will allow ranchers to communicate with police to inform them of drug smugglers and other dangers coming to America from south of the border.
Sheriff Mark Dannels launched a private funding effort to improve safety in areas along the Mexico-Arizona border. He was concerned with areas that lacked cell phone reception. Illegal immigrants will often use these ranches as thruways to enter the United States. As a result, ranchers have their homes looted by opportunistic thieves and Mexican cartel members passing though the area.
The murder of rancher Rob Krentz in 2010 was the final straw for Dannels. Authorities believe Krentz was fatally shot by drug smugglers but was unable to call for help due to poor cell phone reception. Dannels plans to prevent future tragedies by giving ranchers a direct line to local officials and creating a team dedicated to patrolling ranches that is comprised of law enforcement and the ranchers themselves. Increased communication between ranchers and police is the key to border security, according to Dannels.
John Lad, a rancher that owns land that stretches across 10 miles of the international border, is one of the fortunate recipients of the police radios. He claims the radio will come in handy when he is out performing his daily duties on the ranch. A short interview with Ladd can be seen below.
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) June 9, 2016
Ladd admits that illegal immigration has changed in recent years. He used to have hundreds of illegal migrants crossing his land on a daily basis, he now goes days without seeing a single illegal immigrant. Despite the drop in the number of illegal immigrants Ladd states that he has still be robbed of his sense of security. His house is regularly targeted by the few immigrants that do pass through the area. He still fears being attacked by a cartel member or other migrant that decides to loot his home He spoke to the Associated Press regarding the issue of home security:
“If you live in the rural area, that’s your big concern every day. You still have to realize that I can’t just walk into my house anymore. I gotta look around and see what’s going,”
Ladd has seen a decrease in illegal immigration on his land but that doesn’t mean illegal immigration is declining. The landscape has simply shifted, Texas has seen a massive increase in the number of migrants illegally crossing the border. Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas saw the number of migrants jump from 60,000 in 2011 to more that 147,000 in 2015. Conversely, Arizona saw over 123,000 illegal immigrants attempt to enter the U.S. in 2011, that number dropped to only 63,000 attempted crossings in 2015. The number of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. has remained the same while their point of entry has shifted.
Dannels hopes that other law enforcement agencies will follow in his footsteps. He believes that the most effective way to end illegal immigration is through increased communication between police and members of the community.