The Cochise County Sheriff's Office has received grant money for a new program, which means new jobs. Commander Robert Watkins was on "First Watch" to give us some details. 

Watkins: The grant money will create and supplement our southern Arizona border regional enforcement team. We received just over $18 million to fully fund that team for a period of five years with zero cost to Cochise County taxpayers.  

What will be funded with this grant? 

Watkins: We're going to hire 34 people to operate this this amazing unit, twenty-eight civilians and six sworn peace officers. The civilians are going to be broken down into the following: we're going to have one full-time public information officer, one full-time Intel analyst, and two IT technicians; those are very important for building our IT software and our technology and helping bounce signals across the southwest.  

What is the Saber program? 

Watkins: Essentially, the Sheriff's Office has cameras, kind of like game trail cameras, embedded on known smuggling corridors, both drug and human smuggling across the entire southwest from Yuma, AZ to El Paso, TX, and all of that data comes into our building. We currently have 20 National Guard personnel that help staff that and monitor that system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we detect a smuggler, whether it be a drug or human smuggler, on these corridors, they pick up the phone. They contact the respective law enforcement entity, whether it be Border Patrol or the local Sheriff's Office, wherever that is, and they dispatch personnel to intercept those smugglers. It's been highly effective just since 2017. We've had just under 140,000 detections on our Sabre camera system of those we physically put hands on 40,000 individuals, so it's been very, very effective. This year, in addition to that Intel analyst and all of those IT software technicians we're going to be hiring for civilian maintenance camera personnel, these are people that are going to be out hiking in the mountains and terrain of southern Arizona and changing camera batteries and making sure the cameras are operational. Then we're going to have 20 civilian camera monitors, so these are essentially like dispatchers, and these people will essentially see something come across the computer screen and then pick up the phone and call the respective law enforcement entities, and we're going to hire two civilian camera monitor supervisors. All in all, we are going to have 28 civilians and six sworn personnel, and again this is no cost to the Cochise County taxpayer. This is a program that's supposed to be going on for five years. The Arizona National Guard has been amazing. They've been such a great partner to our mission here in Cochise County; they're going to be pulled out by June 30th, so we need really need the community's help in recruiting people (for these jobs). If you know someone that is 18 years old and wants a career in law enforcement, want to join the good fight and help their communities stay safe. 

Find out more information and apply at  

Photo courtesy of Cochise County Canva
Photo courtesy of Cochise County
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