DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that Iowa Department of Public Safety officers have concluded their deployment to the U.S. Southern Border to aid law enforcement and border security efforts.
The mission, "Operation Lone Star," provided the Department’s support to the Texas Department of Public Safety in the Del Rio area from July 10-20. The support was in response to a request in June from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seeking law enforcement support from all 50 states.
The request was made through Iowa’s existing EMAC, a national interstate mutual aid agreement administered by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management that enables states to share resources during a disaster.
28 Iowa DPS law enforcement officers volunteered to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety with traffic duties, humanitarian efforts, tactical operations and human smuggling operations. Those officers included 12 Iowa State Patrol Troopers, 12 tactical operators, three command staff supervisors and one bilingual investigative agent.
Troopers paired with Texas Highway Patrol Troopers to provide public safety in the Del Rio area. Troopers also worked the Rio Grande River crossing area, helping with rescue efforts and addressing humanitarian concerns.
The mission of tactical operators focused on disrupting criminal activities with teams identifying and searching locations where human smuggling was occurring, identifying drug/narcotics offenses and performing surveillance activities designed to identify criminal activities.
“The situation at the U.S. southern border was and remains a humanitarian crisis, with consequences that reach far beyond Texas and Arizona,” Reynolds said. “As the federal government effectively ignores its constitutional duty to secure our border, states like Iowa must act. By participating in Operation Lone Star, Iowa law enforcement played an important role in promoting humanitarian aid as well as safety and security of all Americans.”
Agreements between Iowa and Texas showed Iowa donated the use of state troopers and their equipment at "no cost to Texas." That means Iowa taxpayers are on the hook for the costs. Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens estimated Wednesday the additional cost to Iowa of the mission at $200,000.
Reynolds justified the expense, saying problems at the border have contributed to issues in other states and Iowa, which she said has seen an increase in illegal drug trafficking including fentanyl. She called it an investment well spent and says she will continue to evaluate the needs on the border and whether Iowa law enforcement might be useful again there.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.