Graham Board OKs use of RICO funds for law enforcement equipment

Graham County Attorney L. Scott Bennett said RICO funds will be used to purchase equipment for local law enforcement agencies, including gas masks and tactical shields like the one pictured here. - Alitrobo Photo/Pexels

SAFFORD — Local law enforcement will have some extra funds to work with, thanks to the action of the Graham County Board of Supervisors.

At its most recent meeting, the board authorized three expenditures from RICO funds as requested by County Attorney L. Scott Bennett, accepted an Arizona Criminal Justice Commission grant and authorized Sheriff P.J. Allred to apply for a $15,995.50 grant for bullet-proof vests.

The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission grant awards GCSO with $26,933.87 to handle Drug, Gang and Violent Crime cases.

“That helps us and assists us with any of our task force-type stuff that goes on and overtime,” Allred said. “In any of our violent crimes that we have, we can use that to pay for overtime.”

Bennett said that RICO money comes from forfeitures from convicted persons.

“Periodically we use those funds to help law enforcement with either investigative tools or specific items used for their protection,” Bennett said.

Bennett said $3,000 of the RICO funds will be used for a Toughbook laptop that will be used for Graham County Search and Rescue and in Sheriff’s Office investigations. Another $2,959.37 will be used to purchase five gas masks for Safford Police Department, and $3,160.10 will be used to purchase two tactical shields — which can stop small-arms fire — for Thatcher Police Department.

Bennett said Pima Police Department and the local Department of Public Safety substation were invited to request funds; however, no response from either agency was received.