Our Town has been the subject of recent criticism for its handling of its growing Hispanic population and there is one potential solution to the way law enforcement handles suspected illegal aliens that both Town Hall and the East Haven Police Commission should explore. What has been recognized by all sides is that our Police Department needs a policy and training on how to handle suspected illegal aliens. Illegals aliens have been accused of many violations including possessing illegal license plates, fake drivers licenses, fake insurance cards and other illegal documents.
The Federal Government offers local Police Departments free grants called 287g through ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) that offers State and Local police intensive training on how to handle, process and detain illegal aliens. Most important they emphasize an anti-racial profiling style that may have benefited some of our Officers especially in what is happening currently in East Haven.
The 287g program offers many wonderful training opportunities for Police Officers. This information I received from its website (http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/287g-reform.htm)
287(g) Training Programs
· ICE continues to review, assess and improve the existing 287(g) basic course as well as the 287(g) refresher course to address issue areas identified in the OIG report through coordination with internal and external stakeholders.
· ICE offers a four-week training program for local officers.
· The training includes coursework in immigration law, how to use ICE databases, multi-cultural communication and the avoidance of racial profiling.
· The training is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Charleston South Carolina campus.
Further research for this program pinpoints critical areas of importance cited in Mayor April Administrations proposal to stave off further Federal action in August 2010 and it specifically notes racial profiling I also obtained from its website.
· Racial profiling is simply not something that will be tolerated; and any indication of racial profiling will be treated with the utmost scrutiny and fully investigated. If any proof of racial profiling is uncovered, that specific officer or department could have their agreement rescinded.
· In addition to the training these officers receive from their local departments, the 287(g) training includes coursework on multicultural communication and the avoidance of racial profiling.
Sadly, we missed the boat! The pure benefits of this program would greatly improve the relationship between the legal Hispanic population and our Police Department. Citing from ICE’s website, their Outreach & Communications along with its Benefits would have been a much better approach to handling the tension between our Police Department and the Hispanic Community. The mistrust erupted in a protest by Hispanics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI7KrrSLZSU&feature=related on August 8, 2009 to where we are today. ICE has an outreach and communications program as written below that could have accomplished enforcing the law and bridging the gap between this ethnic group and our local government and Police Department.
Outreach and Communications
· ICE restructured OSLTC to establish an outreach and communications component in February 2010 to provide public education, building and maintaining transparent partnerships with LEAs, external stakeholders, NGOs and community leaders. The core mission of the outreach and communications include efforts to:
· Establish and facilitate steering committees in each 287(g) jurisdiction with set mission, objectives, and responsibilities.
· Build, foster and strengthen communications with internal and external stakeholder groups and community leaders.
· Coordinate federal intergovernmental communications to provide effective oversight, supervision and management of the 287(g) program.
· By working together, local and federal officers can better identify and remove criminal aliens – which is a tremendous benefit to public safety.
· One of the biggest benefits to our 287(g) partners is that they are able to better identify who they have in custody.
Although not founded, it is suspected that someone within the East Haven Police Department or the Mayor April’s Administration wrote to the Department of Justice to ask them to investigate alleged racial profiling. Currently, the Town was placed on notice that several of its Police Officers were given subpoenas in the alleged racial profiling case and we are all still awaiting the Department of Justice findings.
I have wonder why if the East Haven Police Commission and Mayor April’s Administration even knew about this program and if they did why they did not try this approach? It’s a matter of being proactive instead of reactive and clearly the warning signs of confrontation were clear as day from the August 8, 2009 protest in East Haven.
At this point all this community can do is sit back and wait for the stinging report that is going to most likely result in many negative actions towards our Police, Administration and Town. It might even cost the taxpayers dearly. Furthermore, the moral of our Police Department continues to decline as this situation hangs over many of their heads and you wonder if they feel if they have the support to enforce the laws of our Town.
It is not good when the Town ends up on the short end of the stick. East Haven could have been looked at as a model, instead we look indecisive and weak. The end result is the taxpayer will have to reach into their pockets more to pay for more mismanagement and lack of vision.