BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police in Howard County are clarifying their immigration practices with a new, written policy.
“While the directives in the policy are not new, they are now compiled in one official document to clarify the police department’s long-standing practices in immigration-related issues, and to assuage any fears or concerns that may exist,” a written statement says.
“We know this has been an issue of concern for some in our community,” said Police Chief Gary Gardner. “We want to do everything we can to reassure people in Howard County that our police department does not enforce civil violations of federal immigration laws.”
In February, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman vetoed a controversial bill that would have made the county a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.
“I appreciate the steps our police took by communicating our existing practices with the community and, with the community’s input, turn those practices into a written policy that can be shared with our residents,” Kittleman said in a statement about the policy.
“We want everyone to know that our police are here to protect everyone who calls Howard County home.”
The policy clarifies, among other things, that:
- HCPD officers do not ask about immigration status except in rare cases that may include investigations of suspected criminal activity like human trafficking, terrorist activity and gang violence
- HCPD does not call ICE to arrest someone for civil violations of federal immigration laws
- However, when citizens of countries other than the U.S. are arrested for any criminal violations, they may have certain protections afforded to them via international treaties, in particular the Vienna Convention. Therefore, upon arrest, HCPD officers will attempt to determine an individual’s country of citizenship as required by law to make notification to the appropriate consulate.
- HCPD can offer foreign-born individuals referral to services and protections, including T or U Visa information, language services, appropriate community organizations, assistance with consular contacts, etc.
- A violator of any HCPD policy is referred to the Internal Affairs Division for investigation and may result in appropriate disciplinary action
Read the full policy in total by CLICKING HERE.