Immigration Enforcement 'Not a Priority' for Saratoga Police


LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. ICE agents said the immigrant, a legal resident with a Green Card, was a convicted criminal and member of the Alabama Street Gang in the Canoga Park area. ICE builds deportation cases against thousands of immigrants living in the United States. Green Card holders are also vulnerable to deportation if convicted of certain crimes. The number of ICE detentions and deportations from California has dropped since the state passed the Trust Act in October 2013, which set limits on California state law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Photo: Getty Images

In a letter released Wednesday afternoon, Saratoga Police Chief Gregory Veitch clarified his department's policies and practices on illegal immigrants. 

Here's his complete letter:

Over the past several weeks I have spoken with several community members concerned about how the Saratoga Springs Police Department handles the issue of illegal immigration and cooperates with US Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).  I have also received several phone calls from anonymous individuals who insist that Saratoga Springs Police refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies involved with immigration enforcement.

In an effort to clarify the policies and practices of the Saratoga Springs Police Department when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration I offer the following comments to you, the public, and the City Council:

The highest priority of the Saratoga Springs Police Department is to respect the Constitutional rights of all citizens and to treat everyone we encounter with dignity and respect.  Our mission is to serve and protect the residents and visitors of Saratoga Springs, regardless of their immigration status. 

We believe that there should be no barriers for anyone who wishes to report a crime to the police or to contact a police officer for any reason.   Therefore, the Saratoga Springs Police Department does not require or encourage officers to investigate the immigration status of victims or witnesses.  The reporting of a crime or cooperation with an investigation will not automatically lead to an immigration inquiry and/or deportation.  

Immigration enforcement is not a priority of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.  SSPD members are not trained to enforce immigration laws under the federal program sometimes referred to as 287(g) certification.  We do not plan to train our officers through this program.  Immigration violations are the responsibility if federal agencies, not necessarily local police officers.  However, should a federal law enforcement agency request assistance from the Saratoga Springs Police, we will provide assistance consistent with our policies and procedures, as we would for any other law enforcement organization needing assistance within City limits.   We will always provide support to any law enforcement agency conducting legitimate policing activities in the city such as information sharing, traffic control, and peacekeeping efforts.

Criminal offenders in our custody or individuals, who have been verified to have a valid warrant from any federal agency, including ICE, will be detained by SSPD officers in accordance with the law.  Criminal offenders, wanted by another law enforcement agency will be held pending the transfer of custody to the wanting agency.  This applies to federal agencies, including ICE. 

We will not however, detain any individual solely for a civil violation of federal immigration laws.  Nor will SSPD detain any individual that would otherwise be eligible for release, simply for the purpose of notifying federal authorities or to check immigration status.   

It is important to emphasize again that immigration violations are not a priority for the Saratoga Springs Police Department.  We are committed to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public.  We serve the entire community and recognize the dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.  That does not mean however that the members of this agency will refuse to cooperate with ICE or any other law enforcement agency.  The complex reality of immigration enforcement in the United States today demands that local law enforcement agencies take a reasonable and professional approach to this issue. 

The Saratoga Springs Police Department is committed to effective, constitutional policing in this and all areas of our mission to protect and serve the public. 

Respectfully submitted,

      

Gregory J. Veitch

Chief of Police

Saratoga Springs Police Department

5 Lake Avenue

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


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