A push by two Orange County, Ca., police agencies to arrange training to enforce federal immigration laws has opened a rift in Southern California law enforcement circles, with some officials fearing the move will harm crime-fighting efforts, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Costa Mesa Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department are developing plans for officers to be trained with federal agents so they can understand and help enforce immigration laws. “Dozens of jurisdictions have reached out to us and asked us for copies of this policy,” said Jon Fleischman of the Sheriff’s Department. “Like with any instrument that provides a resource to find criminals, departments are looking at this to see if this will help fight crime.”
Los Angeles County’s two top cops – Sheriff Lee Baca and Police Chief William J. Bratton – have come out against such steps, saying it would damage hard-earned efforts to build trust in immigrant communities. For nearly three decades, the Los Angeles Police Department has enforced a strict policy prohibiting officers from stopping or questioning someone solely based on their immigration status. The International Association. of Chiefs of Police has opposed any efforts in the U.S. to require local police to enforce immigration laws.