Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Focus on Community Policing, Positive Outreach

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Focus on Community Policing, Positive Outreach

In response to: www.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2017/nov/08/commentary-independent-progressive-doublespeak-imm/

Fairfax County police officers do not conduct immigration enforcement sweeps or stop individuals solely to inquire about immigration status. Fairfax County police officers follow General Order 601 and cannot arrest someone unless there is reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed or is being committed.

Operation and policy decisions regarding the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center fall under the authority of the Sheriff, an elected constitutional officer, independent of the Board of Supervisors. Per Code of Virginia 19.2-83.2, when individuals are arrested and booked into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, their computerized fingerprints are automatically transmitted to the Virginia State Police’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), regardless of their immigration status. The Virginia State Police forwards the information to other state and federal databases per their guidelines. From there, it is up to ICE to determine who is a priority for deportation. Before 2016, ICE operated under the Priority Enforcement Program and focused its efforts on deporting undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. Under the Trump Administration, the Priority Enforcement Program no longer exists, and any immigrant who is in the country illegally may be selected by ICE for deportation.

If ICE places an arrest warrant and an order to detain on an inmate in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, the Sheriff’s Office will hold that inmate for up to 48 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) past his or her scheduled release date. If ICE does not take custody of the inmate within that time frame, the inmate will be released.

The Board of Supervisors, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office and all Fairfax County government agencies comply with state and federal laws, and immigration is a federal matter. Any changes regarding deportations or the focus and direction of ICE must come from the federal level. On the local level, we continue to focus on community policing through positive outreach and building trust with the residents we serve. All residents of Fairfax County should know that Fairfax County police officers are here to protect and serve any and all community members, regardless of citizenship. No person should be afraid to call the police out of fear of deportation — our police officers are not in that business.

Sharon Bulova

Chairman, Board of Supervisors