AG Announcement On Phoenix Police Immigration Policy Expected Monday

October 16, 2017
Couresty of Ken Crane
Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.
Couresty of Will Gaona
Will Gaona, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

The Arizona Attorney General is expected to reveal findings of a review of the Phoenix Police Department’s recently revised immigration enforcement policy on Monday.

In September, a state senator requested the review, saying the revised policy violates SB 1070.

A civil liberties organization said the revision was designed to comply with the law. While a law enforcement labor group said it’s a solution in search of a problem.

Phoenix police are so busy they don’t have time to enforce immigration law, said Ken Crane president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, or PLEA.

“Even though the policy has changed, It hasn’t really impacted how we’re doing police work,” Crane said. “But what it does, by gutting the policy, it prohibits officers in situations where they may need the tools, of not having them.”

When Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton slammed President Donald Trump’s executive order expanding immigration enforcement priorities, Crane sent a strongly worded open letter to city hall. 

“We’ve had police officers over the years--numerous police officers not just on Phoenix--that have been killed and injured by people that should have never even been in the country to begin with,” Crane said.

PLEA was not invited to work on revising the immigration enforcement policy, and the new version may have been retaliation for his letter, Crane said. 

“Let me put it this way,” Crane said. “It feels that way. Can I prove that? No.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona worked on the revision.

The Phoenix Police Department needs to make sure officers get guidance on when and where to enforce immigration law, said Will Gaona, policy director for the ACLU of Arizona.

“I think this was a policy that was designed to protect victims and witnesses of crime, children in schools and things like that,” Gaona said. “I certainly hope the department is taking these changes seriously.”

Similar policies have been in place for years in Tucson and other cities, Gaona said.

“Phoenix didn’t just make this up,” he said. “They looked around the state, collected best practices and updated their policy in a way that’s designed to both promote community trust while fully implementing and enforcing SB 1070.”

Since the revision is a policy, Gaona said the Attorney General does not have authority to investigate the revision.

“Included in SB 1070 is mandate that it be implemented in a way that protects the civil rights of all people,” he said. “What Phoenix has done here, is try to protect people’s civil rights.”