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Safety or Harassment?

We received several letters from the public regarding the harsh safety measures the Department of Public Safety has in place for Santa Cruz County. One of the concerns is the 24/7 patrolling of our highways, people question if it is for safety or simply harassment. Here in Santa Cruz County many of the streets are patrolled by law enforcement to help reduce accidents and deter speeders from speeding.

The public is aware law enforcement has a quota they need to meet in order to keep certain positions within their department funded. It  leaves many to think if the reason they are out there stopping local residents is only to keep their funding. One core concept those letters have in common from the public, is the feeling of being harassed by law enforcement in Santa Cruz County.

“I don’t understand why we need so much law enforcement patrolling our streets. We don’t have the same number of car accidents like Tucson or Phoenix. It is simply dishonest to go after people, to meet a quota or increase department profits when the large majority of the residents here in Santa Cruz County are not wealthy,” said Hector. According to the Census Bureau, the median income average of a Nogales resident is $14,638 a year.

Santa Cruz County residents pointed out in their letters that as soon as one exits Sonoita St.heading towards I-19, several law enforcement officers are parked by the median on the highway heading north to the Border Patrol Checkpoint by Tubac.DPS officers are often spotted within that range everyday stopping speeders, and tractor trailers.

Many of those letters we received from  local residents felt the measures taken on behalf of law enforcement in Santa Cruz County are unnecessary because reports from the Arizona Department of Transportation  Motor Vehicle do not illustrate a need to have in place such safety measures.

“The role of law enforcement role in Santa Cruz County is to patrol our streets, and highways to increase safety, not harass drivers to increase their funding.  Past the checkpoint close to Amado you hardly see any law enforcement patrolling the highway. Other areas where people also feel harassed by law enforcement is Patagonia and Rio Rico. You don’t see law enforcement in Pima County harassing drivers like they do  in Santa Cruz County,” said Veronica a local resident.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation in 2017 there were 11 alcohol related crashes reported in Santa Cruz County. A total of 8 injuries were reported for the year with  1 fatality, and 6 reported injuries. These facts were retrieved from the 2017 Motor Vehicle Crash Facts for the State of Arizona was prepared by the Arizona Department of Transportation, Transportation Systems Management and Operations Publication it was published in July 31, 2018.

The 2017 Motor Vehicle Crash reported 466 crashes for the 2017 for Santa Cruz County with a total of 6 fatalities and 77 injuries. In comparison to Pima County with a total of 11,707 reported crashes with 111 fatalities and 4,622 injuries reported for the same year. It is easy to assume it is harassment but we must also consider that maybe one of the reasons we have such a low number of reported crashes in Santa Cruz County is because we have law enforcement patrolling our highways and streets.   

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