If you know of an illegal alien in Grand Rapids, don’t call the police department — their policy is now to enable the city to serve as a sanctuary.
The city announced a policy saying Grand Rapids Police Department officers will not check a suspect’s immigration status, except for “legitimate law enforcement needs.” Those needs do not include questioning a subject based on “actual or suspected violations of federal civil immigration law.”
Police Chief Eric Payne (pictured above) said in a statement, “This policy brings together current practices of our police department and input we have received from the community. It’s another step forward in strengthening trust with the community we serve and providing clearer direction to our officers.”
The full policy is posted here.
Officers have exactly defined circumstances in which they may interact with federal immigration officials (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), such as:
Officers may provide assistance to federal immigration authorities when there is an emergency posing an immediate danger to the public safety or to the federal agents.
3. If a non-emergency request is made by federal immigration authorities the department may provide available support services, such as traffic control or peacekeeping efforts, upon approval of the Chief of Police or a Deputy Chief of Police.
In most cases where officers are allowed to work with illegal aliens, officers must go with hat in hand to the chief or assistant chief.GRPD-Immigration-FAQ-English
A police FAQ provides answers, including:
Can an officer stop a person to determine the person’s immigration status?
No. Under federal law a stop requires that an officer have reasonable suspicion of a crime being perpetrated. Stopping someone to inquire about their immigration status based solely on how the person looks would be a violation of the reasonable suspicion standard.
This would also violate Grand Rapids Police Department policy regarding Impartial Policing. This policy affirms that the GRPD has an obligation to protect all Grand Rapidians from crime and victimization and that the full cooperation of victims and witnesses, regardless of immigration status, is essential to hold criminals accountable in a court of law.
In addition, immigration is a federal issue and the GRPD does not act as a first line enforcer of federal law.
The city said in a Facebook post that, “The guidelines ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public regardless of citizenship or immigration status.”
The Grand Rapids Fraternal Order of Police, Gerald R. Ford Metro Lodge #97, was contacted. A representative said that since the Lodge represents multiple agencies in the area, it cannot comment on a specific department’s policy.
The Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association (GRPOA) did not reply to a request for a quote.
Grand Rapids’ policy was enacted nine months after Capt. Curt VanderKooi was accused of racial profiling by activists, Michigan Live said.
VanderKooi was exonerated by an internal affairs investigation. But the Civilian Appeal Board reversed the ruling, and now it’s up to City Manager Mark Washington to turn in a final opinion in the case.
One reader commented on the story that the police union contract says that, per union contract, the final decision would be up to an arbitrator.
The sanctuary city problem is not limited to the GRPD.
In February, ICE said it had arrested three criminal aliens in western Michigan after they were released from Kent County Sheriff’s custody with an active immigration detainer in place.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.