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Courts and Police

Cross Border Task Force Evaluation

Research has shown that drug trafficking and related violence can often more effectively be addressed when resources are targeted collaboratively. Since the 1970s, the number of these task forces has grown; due in part to research that has demonstrated their effectiveness, as well as financial support from the federal level. However, very little, if any research has focused specifically on how task forces can be most effective when addressing the complex issues that occur along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

SANDAG conducted a two-year evaluation of two law enforcement efforts (Chula Vista Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department) funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to target crime stemming from our international border. The goal of this project was to determine how successful these two ARRA-funded efforts were in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of combating criminal narcotics activity along the U.S.-Mexico border.

There were four objectives of the project.  

(1) Document the various law enforcement efforts before and after the implementation of the ARRA-funded projects.

(2) Document project implementation, as well as the challenges and successes to better inform future ones aimed at addressing border-related narcotics and other criminal activity.

(3) Measure what outcomes, including improved coordination and information sharing, were associated with these efforts.

(4) Determine how efficient these strategies were, given the cost and measurable outcomes.  

To address these objectives, a variety of data collection strategies were used, including a thorough analysis of activities prior to task force implementation, as well as during and after in both San Diego County and Imperial County through interviews and historical records.

Following this detailed assessment, surveys were conducted with stakeholders across the local, state, and federal agencies who have been directly involved in these efforts, as well as those who have not.

In terms of outcomes, a resident survey in both communities was conducted and outcome statistics compiled related to border-related drug trafficking and other crime (e.g., drugs, guns, and monetary assets that are seized).

Finally, program activities were observed through ride-alongs and other direct contact, and cost data compiled through official sources.   

With gaps pertaining to what strategies are most effective and efficient when dealing with border-related narcotics activity and drug-related crime, the findings of this project will be extremely useful locally as well as to other communities.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or