Residents to Sheriff’s Office: You traumatized children

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV)- A crackdown on school zone enforcement turned into complaints from community members for the Pima County sheriff’s Office.  People in the Summit community near Old Nogales and Hughes Access Rd. filed a formal complaint Thursday, saying deputies went too far.

“It was done in a way that frightens the children, that frightens teachers, that frightens parents, and it was done in a way that drives a wedge between law enforcement and the community,” said Jamie Farrant, policy director for the Border Action Network.

He says parents became frightened when they arrived to pick up their kids on May 10, and they saw several squad cars and deputies in front of the school.  During the hour-long operation to enforce school zone traffic laws, deputies arrested one man for an outstanding warrant, and called Border Patrol to question one woman about her legal status.

Border Action Network and several Summit residents say the Sheriff’s Office violated their loyalty oath to the community by causing unnecessary fear and unrest.  They also allege schools were unaware of the operation, and that deputies were using traffic stops to ask about legal status.

The Sheriff’s Office denies those allegations, saying it notified all Pima County schools including Summit View Elementary at the beginning of the school year.  No one was alerted to the exact date.  Over several months, deputies tackled all 57 school zones in the county, making more than one hundred arrests.  All of them while children were entering or exiting school.

“That’s when we want to do the enforcement operation,” said Sgt. Michael Grider, “That’s when we want to have the high profile to slow people down in the school zones.”

Grider was in charge of the grant which allowed the Sheriff’s Office to complete the operations.  He says they heard no complaints from any other schools.

“There was nothing unusual about that day at Summit View.  We didn’t do that operation any differently than we did any other operation throughout the duration of this grant,” he said.  When 9 On Your Side asked if he’d do it again differently, he said he’d execute the operation the exact same way.

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