Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The role of the police: Fight crime, not illegal immigration

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William Bratton, outgoing chief of the LA Police Department, has a very good column on why diverting police resources to fight illegal immigration undercuts their mission of fighting crime. Remember: illegal immigrants are NOT guilty of a crime—immigration laws are not part of the Criminal Code. The police really should stay out of the immigration battle and leave that to ICE. Unless, of course, the police have been so successful that there is no crime left to fight. Bratton’s column begins:

On March 12, Juan Garcia, a 53-year-old homeless man, was brutally murdered in an alley off 9th and Alvarado streets in the Westlake District, just west of downtown Los Angeles. At first, the police were stumped; there were no known witnesses and few clues. Then a 43-year-old undocumented immigrant who witnessed the crime came forward and told the homicide detectives from the Rampart station what he saw. Because of his help, a suspect was identified and arrested a few days later while hiding on skid row. Because the witness was not afraid to contact the police, an accused murderer was taken off the streets, and we are all a little bit safer. Stories like this are repeated daily in Los Angeles.

Keeping America’s neighborhoods safe requires our police forces to have the trust and help of everyone in our communities. My nearly 40 years in law enforcement, and my experience as police commissioner in Boston and New York City and as chief in Los Angeles, have taught me this.

Yet every day our effectiveness is diminished because immigrants living and working in our communities are afraid to have any contact with the police. A person reporting a crime should never fear being deported, but such fears are real and palpable for many of our immigrant neighbors.

This fear is not unfounded. Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that 11 more locations across the United States have agreed to participate in a controversial law enforcement program known as 287(g). The program gives local law enforcement agencies the powers of federal immigration agents by entering into agreements with Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Although many local agencies have declined to participate in 287(g), 67 state and local law enforcement agencies are working with ICE, acting as immigration agents.

Some in Los Angeles have asked why the LAPD doesn’t participate. My officers can’t prevent or solve crimes if victims or witnesses are unwilling to talk to us because of the fear of being deported. That basic fact led to the implementation almost 30 years ago of the LAPD’s policy on immigrants, which has come to be known as Special Order 40. The order prohibits LAPD officers from

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 November 2009 at 10:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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