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Questions remain in Iowa State Patrol deployment to southern border

For the safety of the troopers assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border, ISP is withholding details of the mission.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been two weeks since Gov. Kim Reynolds agreed to send troopers with the Iowa State Patrol to help Texas law enforcement with border security efforts.  But there are still some lingering questions about the agreement, like when the two-week assignment starts and who's paying for the deployment.

This year has brought the highest levels of border crossings in some 20 years, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

CBP also reported a 233% increase in fentanyl seizures in March 2021 from the previous year. In May, that increased climbed to 300%.

Reynolds' office said those drugs are making their way to Iowa.

"My first responsibility is to the health and safety of Iowans and the humanitarian crisis at our nation's southern border is affecting all 50 states," she said in a news release in June.

Denise Leifker, criminal justice professor at Simpson College in Indianola said that's why the Emergency Management Assistance Compact is in place.

"You're agreeing to help somebody when they're in need. And if that particular state is asking for assistance, we are just participating in what we have agreed to participate in if we can do it," said Leifker. "The people in our state believe that we have the capacity to be able to assist."

ISP told Local 5 in a statement the deployment won't impact public safety here at home because:

"The size of the deployed team and time of the deployment...will be similar in scope to our commitment to other special assignments such as RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair."

Professor Leifker agrees the impact would be minimal. 

"We're talking about two weeks, and it would be essentially like with different shifts and vacations in the summer and things like that, I think it's something that we probably will be okay to handle for two weeks. Although, I understand why people might be a little bit concerned," she said.

ISP said a number of details about the mission are withheld for the safety of the troopers. Leifker, however, believes troopers are well prepared.

"They may be asked to exercise skills that they're not regularly doing, but I don't think it's something that's above the capacity of what they've been trained in. It's essentially working with people trying to deescalate situations, handle security issues," she said.

While the cost doesn't get calculated until the assignment ends, ISP says who will play for the deployment is still being discussed.

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