Pinal County Sheriff deputizes federal agents - Tucson News Now

Pinal County Sheriff deputizes federal agents

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona deserts and highways cover plenty of ground and have plenty of different activity.  Federal officers can be sworn as sheriff's deputies, and it's being done in a variety of counties, from Santa Cruz, to Pima, to Pinal.

"Some of the criminals we're targeting are very bad, and very violent.  We want to so we have every charge we can, not only to hold them, arrest them, and have them detained here, to pay a consequence for those criminal acts," Pinal County Sheriff Babeu said.

Sheriff Babeu posted on his public official Facebook page a picture of him deputizing about 30 Border Patrol and ICE agents Thursday.  The vast majority of almost 70 comments on the page were supportive.  But some questioned giving more authority to federal officers.  One said:  "this is so wrong. They are not police officers from Arizona they are Federal workers. Sounds like a police state starting to me sir."

Cochise County backed off from such a move in August.

Babeu said that cooperating with sheriff's deputies will not take precedence over agents' original assignments; the move aims to enhance their ability to enforce the law during interactions with suspects.

"From trespassing to assault to weapons violations, all of these things come under state law.  So, we want to give these federal agents, if somebody's committing crimes, we want them to have the ability to make an arrest and also to charge them," Sheriff Babeu said.

He said that the federal officers are not receiving county paychecks and that more than 100 federal agents have also been deputized on Cochise County.

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