Yuma mayor, police chief share impressions of Trump’s visit

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls speaks during Tuesday's roundtable discussion on border security at U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector Headquarters, 4035 S. Avenue A, in Yuma. 

The Yuma mayor and police chief both emphasized to President Trump the community’s unity and collaborative efforts during his Tuesday visit.

The President visited Yuma for the second time to check in with law enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol and commemorate the 200th mile of the new border wall.

Mayor Doug Nicholls and Police Chief Susan Smith were invited to take part in a roundtable held early in the afternoon, shortly after his arrival at the Marine Corps Air Station.

“The President’s return to Yuma today shows he is committed to the work being done to protect and secure our southern border,” Nicholls said. “I was honored to participate in the roundtable briefing at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, to represent Yuma alongside Yuma Police Chief Susan Smith.”

Nicholls noted that as mayor of a border city, he appreciates that the geographical location has historically allowed Yuma to have strong relationships with Mexico and other international partners. Nevertheless, he added, “as much as we will continue to work together, we need a safe and efficient border. We appreciate that being a priority in President Trump and Acting (Homeland) Secretary (Chad) Wolf’s leadership.”

Asked what message he wanted to convey to Trump, Nicholls said, “Each time that I’ve met the President, I hope to show how great the people of Yuma are and how strong of a community we have here. During this global pandemic we are dealing with now, security and strength is more imperative than ever. I am proud of the local leaders in our region who had the chance to show him our border and what we have in place here, and we will continue to work together for the betterment of our megaregion,”

During the roundtable, Nicholls thanked the President and shared brief comments about the unique situation along the southwestern border in relation to COVID-19.

Smith described the President’s visit as “short and positive.” She added: “He seems to listen to what we were saying. He seems generally concerned about making sure the area down here is secured and wanting to know the wall is lessening crime and offering security to the Yuma community, and it does.”

She told the President how the wall has impacted local law enforcement. “I wanted to talk about what we’ve seen since the wall and other security enhancements were put in place along the border, being additional personnel, cameras, they put in a whole group of different pieces to enhance security, and all of them together has lessened the number of individuals crossing illegally, as well as drugs and human smuggling, and stolen vehicles. It’s helped tremendously,” Smith said.

For Smith, the highlight was being able to talk about the Yuma community. “I told him law enforcement is unique in that they work very collaboratively together, federal, state and local agencies, we actually work well together. I think it’s because we all live in the same community, Yuma, Somerton, San Luis, Wellton. We all know Yuma is our home and we have to work together to make it a safer place. It happens every day. If anyone needs help, we reach out,” Smith said.

Both Nicholls and Smith pointed out that although not everyone might agree with Trump, community residents always stay respectful.

“I was truly proud today as I was in 2017 when the President visited Yuma by which the greater Yuma community welcomed the President during the motorcade to the border,” Nicholls said. “Positive and negative positions were respectful, and we had no situations for our law enforcement to address.”

“We only had peaceful protest, which was super,” Smith said. “Goes along the line with the Yuma community, who respect each other for the most part, and they were peaceful which makes our job easier.”

The police chief is happy that the visit went without a hitch. “It seemed to go off without any incidents. I don’t like to say flawless because changes occur in the middle, but peaceful and well put together.

“We’re very lucky. I’m very thankful to our community. He came, and our community stayed peaceful, and he left,” Smith added.

Carl Landrum, Border Patrol deputy chief patrol agent for the Yuma Sector, was not available for comment, a spokesman said.

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