SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A company developing what could be the next line of border surveillance demonstrated its technology.
SpotterRF's compact radar sensor and hi-tech cameras could become the equipment used in Arizona's "virtual fence."
Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill last week allowing Arizona to build a virtual fence. The bill doesn't include the allocation of funding for the project the bill's sponsor Sen. Bob Worsley says will cost $30 million.
"There hasn't been any technologies up until recently with the advent of compact surveillance radar that you could cover that much area for such a low cost point," SpotterRF mechanical engineer Brad Solomon said.
House Bill 2462 allows for the installation of 300 towers with hi-tech sensors and cameras along 375 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Senator John McCain told 9 On Your Side he appreciates the state's efforts to improve border security, but said the better solution is for Congress to pass the stalled immigration reform bill, which allocates $8 billion for border security.
"A good portion of that is in surveillance using drones, towers and other technological means to get our border secure," McCain said.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says the border is as secure as it can get.
"You're never going to be able to seal the border regardless of how much technology, how many boots on the ground you put in there," Sheriff Estrada said. "As long as there's poverty there's going be people coming over and as long as theres a demand for drugs there's going to be drugs coming over."
A Santa Cruz deputy showed 9 On Your Side a portion of the border where the taller fence drops off. Deputies say at night there they often encounter drug smuggling activity at night.
Sheriff Estrada tells 9 On Your Side he'd rather see additional state funding go directly toward sheriff's departments rather than paying for the virtual fence.
"If we arrest them, transport them, house them, give them medical attention, its on the county's dime," Sheriff Estrada said.
Sen. Worsley plans to start a task force in May to discuss legislation for funding the virtual fence in next year's budget.