Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton says his department’s controversial policy on dealing with illegal immigrants was widely misunderstood by the public and some of his own officers, and he would clarify the rule in the next couple of weeks, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bratton strongly defended the intent of the “Special Order 40” policy, which bars officers from initiating contact with individuals for the sole purpose of determining whether they are illegal immigrants.
The 29-year-old policy was designed to encourage illegal immigrants to cooperate with police without fear of being deported. It has come under renewed debate in recent weeks after the high-profile killing of a teenager, allegedly by an illegal immigrant gang member. Officers say they often avoid the issue of a suspect’s immigration status altogether — largely out of fear it will anger superiors who see it as a lightning-rod issue. “I don’t understand that mind-set,” Bratton said of such officers. “That is a cop-out.”