Police chiefs, Holder to meet, discuss Arizona immigration law
Ten police chiefs, including Montgomery County’s J. Thomas Manger, are meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday to express concerns over Arizona’s tough new immigration law. They don’t want the law to spread to other states.
Included in the delegation are: Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey -- who used to be chief in D.C. -- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, and Sahuarita (Ariz.) Police Chief John W. Harris, who also is president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police. Manger has spoken out against the law before.
The chiefs are expected to speak to reporters after the Holder meeting.
But consensus is far from universal among police officers about the new law. It is enthusiastically supported by PLEA, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, a union, and the APA, the Arizona Police Association, an umbrella organization of police, corrections, border patrol and other law enforcement groups.
Under the Arizona measure, local officers will given discretion to enforce immigration laws. The 10 chiefs meeting with Holder think it goes to far and could drive critical crime witnesses underground. The chiefs also have said it will consume too much of their officers’ time.
They “are concerned that the new SB 1070 law in Arizona will drive a wedge between the community and the police, and will damage the trust that police agencies have worked to establish over many years with members of all their communities,” according to a statement this morning from the Police Executive Research Forum, which helped organize the meeting with Holder.
Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix union, said in an interview Tuesday that the chiefs, whom he dismissed as administrators who "drive desks," are motivated by the politics of their bosses in their respective cities.
He said provisions in the law will actually save officers time because in many cases the officers can turn suspects over to immigration cops. As for crime witnesses, Spencer said the law protects them, and he cites language in the law that describes how officers should act towards potential illegal immigrants they stop, detain or arrest: “A reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”
The union clearly has staked out the position that illegal immigration leads to more crime. “We hold the view that lawlessness leads to more lawlessness,” Spencer said.
-- Dan Morse
May 26, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: Around the Nation , Dan Morse , Montgomery , Politics
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