Iowa to pay for troopers sent to border, governor says
The Iowa state troopers are joining a multi-state effort to fight crime along the Texas border with Mexico
By Ryan J. Foley and David Pitt
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday that Iowa will cover the cost of troopers sent to Texas to fight crime along the U.S. border with Mexico, confirming the state would fund the mission after the release of agreements showing the effort would come at “no cost to Texas."
Since Reynolds announced June 24 that she would join other Republican governors in sending forces to the border, her administration has argued Texas could later reimburse Iowa for expenses under a multi-state compact. However, Iowa's assistance agreements released to The Associated Press on Monday stated that Texas and Arizona asked other states to “absorb the associated costs with this mission” for the good of the country.
“Iowa is donating this resource,” according to the agreements, signed by the director of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management on July 2 and released by the department under the open records law.
Later Monday, Reynolds was asked at a news conference in Nebraska who would pay for the deployment, and she acknowledged the costs would fall to her state.
“That will be a state function," Reynolds said. “We sat down with the commissioner before we sent them down to make sure we felt that they could not only handle the safety of the citizens of the state of Iowa but have the resources to go down there, and they assured us that they did.”
Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett had said earlier Monday there still was a chance Texas could eventually reimburse some costs. When asked whether the governor was confirming that Iowa would pay, he responded by text: “The governor did say that. The final costs themselves yet to be determined per what DPS said.”
Reynolds, speaking at the Tri-State Governor's Conference in South Sioux City, Nebraska, with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, provided more details about the troopers' mission.
Reynolds said Iowa sent 29 troopers and that they arrived in Del Rio, Texas, a few days ago. She said they would stay for 16 days.
They include road troopers, members of an Iowa State Patrol tactical team that responds to high-risk situations, command staff and an investigator, according to the documents released to the AP.
Ricketts said he has sent 25 troopers to Del Rio to help with law enforcement. A Nebraska State Patrol spokesman said officials there also have not finalized funding for their contribution to the effort.
Noem said she sent 50 National Guard members who are helping with observation posts and coordinating with border control officers to help secure the southern border.
Noem has said she would use a $1 million donation from a Republican donor to send National Guard troops. In a speech to a conservative audience Sunday, she criticized governors who sent officers to the border, saying it was irresponsible “to shortchange law enforcement.”
“They’re needed at home,” she said, adding that National Guard units were better trained for the mission.
Garrett said Iowa has ruled out the use of private donations.
Iowa Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Debbie McClung said Monday that discussions about “payment structures are ongoing.” The cost of the mission is unknown.
Reynolds announced the deployment last month, responding to requests for assistance from the GOP governors of Texas and Arizona through the interstate Emergency Management Assistance Compact. She said Iowa “has no choice but to act” to help secure the border, citing drugs, human trafficking and violent crime that affect all 50 states.
It’s believed to be the first time Iowa state police officers have been sent on an out-of-state mission since Iowa joined the compact in the 1990s. Several other Republican governors have pledged to send law enforcement in response to the requests, including in Florida, Idaho and Ohio.
Iowa also has 30 soldiers from the Iowa National Guard providing assistance to law enforcement at the border, Reynolds said.
The documents released Monday show Texas has requested 434 state troopers, 75 investigators and six tactical teams from other states.
Iowa troopers will not bring their patrol cars and instead will team up with Texas state troopers and Texas Rangers, although one investigator planned to drive an unmarked car from Iowa, the agreements state.
All the officers will also need hotel rooms. They will, however, bring their own equipment including uniforms, handguns, rifles, ammunition, body armor and other gear.
McClung has said the deployment — 5.3% of the department’s 552 sworn officers — would “not compromise the department’s ability to provide public safety services to Iowans.” She has compared the scope of the assignment to annual summertime deployments for officers to patrol the Iowa State Fair and a popular statewide bicycle ride.
Their deployment comes amid rising traffic fatalities on Iowa’s highways that the Iowa State Patrol said last month was caused by excessive speeding and other reckless driving.