Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Chief William Bratton says passing immigration reform will make "every American neighborhood much safer."
Bratton, one of the most well-known police chiefs in the country, writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed this morning that he opposes the federal 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement to double as federal immigration agents. He says the program stops immigrants from reporting crimes for fear of being deported.
It’s an interesting move for the outgoing police chief to insert himself into such a controversial debate. He will take some heat for his stance. Bratton, also the former police chief in Boston and New York, has never shied away from the spotlight. He once considered politics in New York, but he told LA Weekly this spring that he wasn't planning to run for office. He has since put his $1.8 million home up for sale and may be moving to Great Britain for a job at Scotland Yard, according to the Times.
He certainly picked a good time for making a big splash. The immigration debate is only expected to pick up as the White House prepares its strategy to pass comprehensive immigration reform next year.
In his column, Bratton also responds to queries about why he didn’t join 287(g) like many other law enforcement agencies. He says the program damages the trust police have with immigrants.
The 287(g) program is run in Charlotte. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff was one of the first to join the program back in 2006. Critics say the program is more often used to nab minor offenders, but it should be noted that the Mecklenburg program is operated in the jail and deputies are not out searching for illegal immigrants – as is the case in some other major cities.
“We must pass immigration reform and bring our neighbors out of the shadows so they get the police service they need and deserve,” Bratton says. “When officers can speak freely with victims and witnesses, it goes a long way toward making every American neighborhood much safer.”