There's a pissing match underway between the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and three mayors of cities along the U.S./Mexico border -- and it just got pissier.
In one corner: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. In the other: mayors Arturo Garino of Nogales, Michael Gomez, of Douglas, and Juan Escamilla, of San Luis, who have asked Babeu to tone down the rhetoric when talking about border violence.
The mayors feel that some of Babeu's chatter is hurting business in their cities -- namely his assertion that an armed showdown in the desert between law enforcement agencies and drug cartels is imminent.
In a letter to Babeu, the mayors asked that he "not cultivate a culture of fear" in the Grand Canyon State that "may keep national media coming to Arizona" but, in reality, is hurting the economies of border cities.
Babeu responded with a letter of his own, which you can see here.
This morning, Babeu's public information officer, Tim Gaffney, sent his own letter to the mayors -- he even drops the line "when you go to bed and have 'sweet dreams of tourism dancing through your head.'"
See Gaffney's letter, in its entirety, below.
February 17, 2011
Mayors' Garino, Escamilla and Gomez, September 11, 2001 was the largest terrorist attack on American soil in our history. The 9-1-1 Commission preached we need to have "transparency in government" so our citizens can make educated decisions for themselves regarding their personal safety.
I have been in law enforcement for nearly twenty-years and currently serve as the Public Information Officer for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. It is my job to put out News Releases to inform the public on what is happening in Pinal County. Your letter to Sheriff Babeu dated February 9th, 2011 is critical of the information we have released publically and it even questioned its accuracy.
The U.S. Border Patrol and others have said, although Pinal County is not on the border, our problems are magnified because the cartels who come through the three border counties, which are not secured, are funneled through Pinal County. Statistics show during the past four years we have seen dramatic increases in totals tied to drug and human trafficking. In fact, our vehicle pursuits and drug seizures are higher than any of the four border counties.
Below are some of the photos from cases our folks have investigated during this past year that we have reported on openly. If you speak to your law enforcement agencies in your area, you will find they have a far different view point then you have expressed in your letter and are very supportive of our efforts.
Regarding the effect on visitors, have you seen the "Normandy Style Barriers" our citizens are greeted with 70 miles north of the border? Below are photos in case you have not seen them. How come if we care so much about border security, these barriers are 70 miles north of the border and not on the border?
Tonight when you go to bed and have "sweet dreams of tourism dancing through your head" please say a prayer for the men and women of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office who are involved nightly with vehicle and foot pursuits involving cartel members responsible for drug and human trafficking.
Tim Gaffney, Public Information Office Pinal County Sheriff's Office
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Your move, border mayors.