Arizona Prepares for New Immigration Law
POSTED: Monday, July 5, 2010 - 5:35pm
UPDATED: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 7:55pm
The new Arizona immigration law has stirred up a storm of controversy, and peace officers know they are under a national microscope.
They knew the whole country would be watching, and looking for officers to overstep and lapse into racial profiling. But even at the signing ceremony, the governor was emphatic …that just can’t happen.
“Words in a law book are of no use unless our officers are properly trained in its provisions,” said Governor Jan Brewer at the ceremony.
But for Governor Brewer’s words to be more than empty rhetoric, police officers would have to know where the lines are and what the law allows, and more importantly, doesn’t.
So, a video has been prepared for the police to explain their new duties…and new limits.
For starters, they have discretion. As Sheriff J.B. Smith has pointed out, if you wanted to do nothing else, you could spend all your duty time on illegal aliens.
So officers can take into account their case load, the number of officers available on the street, or whether the suspect is needed for crucial information on a crime.
“Because you are here illegally doesn’t mean you give up your rights as a human being to be safe in all of your activities,” says Tuscon Police Chief Robert Villasenor in the video. “I think this could affect our relationship with segments of our community that we rely on and which I believe are showing the fruits of that work in the drop in crime. When people aren’t comfortable talking to the police, then we lose valuable information.”
And though the law states race and color are not to be used as suspicious factors, the way a person is dressed, command of the language, and even an overloaded car are listed as enough to trigger a stop.
But, Arizona police are cautioned, tread lightly.
“The scrutiny you will be placed under in the next few months,” says attorney Beverly Ginn in the tape, “will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
There are a couple of mistakes that some critics of the training materials have found, but it does appear that overall the state is very aware that every action however obscure, will be reported…and used by those who support the law and those who oppose it.