A recent report by Cronkite News illustrates a frustration that has dogged local officials for years.

The news service, which is affiliated with Arizona State University and provides free content for all media outlets, published the results of a survey on the rate of violent crime in the 23 counties that border Mexico.

The article was pointed at the “rhetoric” of President Trump but showed that during the past four years, violent crime has been slightly above the national average.

California and Texas counties were consistently below the national average, while New Mexico was typically three to four times higher. Arizona’s four border counties, including Cochise County, were significantly below the national average on violent crimes.

It takes a keen ear to distinguish the message that local law enforcement officials convey when they talk about crime along the border. In the article, for example, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said measuring crimes in border counties is not a true reflection of the crime that is coming across the border.

Sheriff Mark Dannels relates the same message.

Border counties are part of the path to other communities where violent crimes are happening. Dannels will tell you that 90 percent of the drugs brought into the United States are smuggled through border counties, and the criminality associated with that trade usually happens in the destination communities where the narcotics are being delivered.

That’s the real issue on the border.

Failing to address illicit trafficking across the Southwest border contributes to more crime not just in border counties, but throughout the United States.

The conundrum for local officials is promoting a positive message that draws new residents, new employers and tourists to an area that has been identified by the “rhetoric” as inherently dangerous.

For Cochise County and Sierra Vista tourism officials it’s a never-ending challenge that requires consistently reminding the audience of the positive aspects of visiting, working and living in this area.

Spread the word — Cochise County and Sierra Vista are no more dangerous than anywhere else in the United States, thanks to our great local law enforcement personnel, and it’s a beautiful place to enjoy nature, the weather and lots of great outdoor activities and attractions.

Reprinted from Sierra Vista Herald/Review

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