Los Angeles, CA - Elected city officials have requested that ICE agents stop referring to themselves as police officers.
According to NPR, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and president of the city council Herb Wesson made the request in a letter dated February 23, 2017. In that letter, addressed to Susan Curda, District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, they said:
"In Los Angeles, the term 'police' is synonymous with the Los Angeles Police Department, so for ICE agents to represent themselves as police misleads the public into believing they are interacting with LAPD. This is especially corrosive given that to advance public safety, the LAPD does not initiate police action with the objective of determining a person's immigration status."
In an article by The Los Angeles Times dated February 21, 2017, the question is again raised and referred to a specific incident.
During a nationwide ICE operation in February, 2017, a team of ICE agents approached the residence of a man who was scheduled to be deported. They announced themselves by saying "Good morning, police." When a man opened the door a few moments later, the agent said "Good morning, how you doing? I’m a police officer. We’re doing an investigation." The incident was captured on a video that has since been released by ICE.
For 40 years, the Los Angeles Police Department said that it has tried to emphasize that it is different from immigration enforcement, which is federal. The LAPD said that it wants its citizens and residents to be able to interact with them without fear. They believe it is part of a ruse used by ICE agents to gain access to a home or individual that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access.
The use of the word 'police' by ICE agents has also brought up the current issue where many cities and towns have decided not to cooperate and assist ICE in identifying and apprehending immigrants who are in the country illegally. This is especially true of sanctuary cities.
Both the LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti have tried to distance themselves from ICE and also advocated for the rights of immigrants. Chief Beck has tightened rules including when his officers can impound a vehicle, and the LAPD has refused to hold in custody any suspect on an ICE detainer.
During the coming week, the ACLU has announced that it will take formal steps to ensure ICE Agents are not identifying themselves as LAPD police officers. The ACLU has a history of making legal claims based on how they think things should be, rather than what the law says they should be, so we don't expect it to get far.
This may be a divisive issue, but it's pretty simple. We are all officers, and we all bleed blue. Seems more like political correctness than common sense.
Law enforcement officers are trained to clearly identify themselves as police, especially when they want to enter a home, and ICE is likely no different.
Do you think that ICE should stop identifying themselves as police? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know below.