June 2, 2010

Montgomery County police chief wants illegal immigration ignored locally

The public doesn't understand the consequences of putting local police in the role of immigration enforcers, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said in an interview last week. A law such as Arizona's controversial immigration measure would require county police officers to spend hours, instead of five minutes, on a traffic stop trying to determine the vehicle occupant's immigration status, Manger said.

"That would be taking a whole squad out of duty," he said.

Speaking a day after he joined about a dozen police chiefs from Arizona, as well as Los Angeles, Houston and other metropolitan areas, in meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Manger said, "Every one of us realizes the frustration the public has on the issue."

But, he said, the Arizona law would lead to more problems without addressing the root causes of illegal immigration. At the Washington, D.C., meeting May 26, the chiefs told Holder they are concerned that the new law could force illegal immigrants to go even further underground.

"Laws like this will actually increase crime, not decrease crime," said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

At a press conference the same day outside the Justice Department, the chiefs also said they worried that other states could adopt the law. Several chiefs said an Arizona-type law could drive a wedge between immigrant communities and the police, eroding trust that police departments have worked to build over the years as a crime-fighting strategy. SOURCE: Gazette

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