In a startling expose on Sheriff Arpaio of Maricopa County, under investigation by the Justice Department over mounting complaints of discrimination in his enforcement of immigration laws, Phoenix’s KPHO-Channel 5 reveals a sinister pattern of how Arpaio has used his powers to intimidate and harass his critics ranging from the Board of Supervisors and presiding Judges to reporters and activists. It seems like immigrants aren’t his only target.
That’s what makes initiatives like those started by Arturo Venegas, a retired Chief of Police, essential. The Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative was created to to lift up the voices of law enforcement officials calling for common-sense immigration reform. Government programs that arm state and local enforcement with federal immigration responsibilities require knowledge of complicated immigration laws, are costly, but most importantly, lose the faith of communities. And who better to testify to this than policing professionals.
Watch Arturo Venegas testify to the growing importance of this movement.
At it’s most recent press conference, Chief Rick Braziel spoke of a recent incident in Sacramento, Texas, where a couple at a red light were hit by a drunk driver and witnesses caught the drunk driver but ran away in fear of the police. Describing the success of community policing in Arlington, Texas, Deputy Chief Kim Lemaux was emphatic that if a group of residents fears the police, they would not turn to officers making them viable victims instead. It seems that tasking the police with immigration enforcement sets them on a path that directly conflicts with community based policing. And Sheriff Bill McCarthy of Polk County, Iowa movingly described the impact of the Postville raid, that reduced the postville community of 3600 down to 2000, left a company in bankruptcy, with 200-400 people including broken families continuing to be fed in the churches.
Time to listen to the experts.