Iowa spends $300k on law enforcement deployment aid in U.S.-Mexico border crisis

(The Center Square) – The deployment of Iowa Department of Public Safety law enforcement officers to aid Texas to aid border security efforts has ended, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced July 28.

Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety Stephan Bayens told reporters at a news conference July 28 that the mission, Operation Lone Star, cost “a tick under $300,000.” That sum, “which is still a little bit in flux,” included just under $50,000 in lodging, food, vehicle rentals and other “hard costs;” $150,000 in overtime costs, and about $100,000 in salary costs “that we would have incurred anyways.”

Five percent of the department’s sworn, salaried workforce – 12 road Iowa State Patrol Troopers, 12 tactical operators, three command staff supervisors and a bilingual investigative agent – volunteered to assist Texas, a news release from Reynolds’ office said. The officers who deployed to the Del Rio area for the July 10 to July 20 mission accumulated 5,000 hours of worktime helping with traffic, humanitarian efforts, tactical operations and stopping human smuggling. Tactical operations included identifying locations where human smuggling was occurring, drug/narcotics offenses and criminal activities.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey requested help from other states on June 10 to stop the trafficking of guns, drugs and humans across the border. Laredo, Texas, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have sued the Biden administration regarding border crossings. Ten Iowa sheriffs signed a letter in April urging Biden “to reverse course and help us protect our communities by securing the southern border.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported officers seized 8 times the amount of fentanyl in April 2021 than they had in April 2020 after apprehending drug smugglers.

Chief of the Iowa State Patrol Col. Nathan Fulk said at the news conference that special assignments “frequently occur” and leadership “strategically” decided which troopers could be spared while mitigating the impact to the state.

Reynolds said at the news conference that Iowa taxpayers will likely be financially responsible for the costs of deploying the officers to Texas, though there may be federal funds coming in. The state would continue to monitor the border situation after the Iowa State Fair and the Des Moines Register-organized Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, she added.

“It’s not stopping in Texas and Arizona,” she said. “That is infiltrating throughout the state. It is an investment that I believe was well spent in helping really secure the southern border, the humanitarian efforts that were put in place. I felt that it was the right thing to do.”

Reynolds said the state and legislators are “continually revaluating” how to address addiction and opioid in Iowa. Fentanyl has been implicated in 87% of opioids deaths in Iowa in 2021, she said.

“Any time that we can stop that from coming across the borders and into our states, we’re going to do everything we can to do that,” she said.

From January to May 2021, Iowa law enforcement seized 6,641 grams of fentanyl, the release said. The state had the third fewest drug overdose deaths per capita – 13 per 100,000 people – in 2020 compared to other states, according to CDC preliminary estimates of drug overdose deaths.

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