New task force to patrol state’s northern border

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 10-19-2023 4:29 PM

In a move to bolster security measures along New Hampshire's northern border, the state has formed a law enforcement task force to patrol a 25-mile radius near the state’s border with Canada.

The Northern Border Alliance Task Force will respond to threats and potential hazards with the intent to reduce crime, Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General John Formella jointly announced Thursday

The task force will be funded with $ 1.4 million in grant funds available to state and local law enforcement agencies.

“The Federal Government refuses to take action on our Northern Border,” Sununu said in a statement. “They cut funding, limited our resources, and have thrown their hands up. Without adequate federal support, the state is stepping up.” 

Sununu said border encounters with individuals on the terrorist watchlist have doubled along the northern border since 2017 to the point where  85% of all such encounters occurred on the northern border – while only 15% occurred on the southern border.

Formella said the taste force will add 10,000 patrol hours to Northern New Hampshire through 2025. 

“Our aim is to increase the presence and effectiveness of law enforcement in northern New Hampshire, particularly in communities in close proximity to the Canadian border,” said Formella. “Given the rural nature, expansive geography, and sparse population of northern Coos County, local law enforcement resources are extremely limited.” 

The task force involves state, county and local law enforcement officers who will work under the general supervision of the Attorney General's Office.

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection data for FY 2023 reports a total of 5,906 encounters in the region, which includes Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. The statistics do not differentiate between the states. In comparison, the encounters in FY 2022 were considerably lower at 1,065.

The first phase, involving the State Police, will start immediately. The second phase is set to start when the rules for the task force are approved during theJoint Legislative Committee session on Administrative Rules held on Nov. 16. 

Following the approval of these regulations, local and county law enforcement agencies will have the opportunity to apply to participate with the Northern Border Alliance Program and establish grant agreements with the state.