The law's main champions certainly include some law-enforcement figures, like
Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio and the bill's state senate sponsor, Russell
Pearce, a former cop whose son (also a policeman) was once shot by an illegal
immigrant. But the official opposition of the Chiefs of Police Association — on
the grounds that the law amounts to an unfunded mandate, that it could hurt
community relationships and that it distracts attention and resources from more
serious criminality — shows that in Arizona, cops are just as divided about the
law as everyone else.
Brian Livingston, president of the Arizona Police
Association, which represents 9,000 rank-and-file officers and agents in the
state, supports SB1070 without reserve. "What we've seen is inaction, a lot of
discussion," he said. "We have officers getting killed, getting severely injured
by illegal aliens." He told the story of officer Marc Atkinson, a young Phoenix
cop whom Livingston had personally recruited to the force. Atkinson was killed
by an illegal alien during a drug bust, said Livingston.
acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, followed that
speech with his own prescription for immigration and border issues. He didn't
explicitly take sides on SB1070, but he argued for a "holistic" approach that
includes a lot of help for America's neighbor to the south. "Speaking cop to
cop," he told the audience, the real question should be "How do we help [Mexico]
reduce the violence?"
The controversy alone made some law-enforcement
officials uncomfortable. Walking on the floor of the exhibition hall, police
chief Jerald Monahan of Apache Junction didn't want to comment about the law,
except to take issue with the rising calls to boycott Arizona: "To boycott all
of us when they're mad at a few people is not right," he said. "We're doing good
Chief John Harris of Sahuarita, the current president of the
Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, said he opposed the law before Governor
Jan Brewer signed it and still does today. He listed his objections: Immigration
has traditionally been a federal issue, and the police already have "manpower
and budget issues" that will only get worse under the law. "If we then arrest
[illegals] on state charges, who will pay?" he asked. He's also concerned that
victims may not report crimes to his officers. And finally, the threat of
lawsuits — any citizen may sue a police officer or department for impeding the
enforcement of immigration laws — makes him leery.
When told of the Arizona
Police Association's support for the law, Harris nodded. "It gives police
officers, in their mind, another tool," he said. "But if they get hit with a
civil rights lawsuit, well, that's a problem for the chief of police."
Ultimately Harris and the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police will
continue to oppose the law until it takes effect in mid- to late-summer. After
that, however, they will uphold its provisions while being as fair as possible.
"We are sworn," he said, "to enforce the laws of Arizona."
I find this really interesting, that Law Enforcement doesn't even agree on this issue. I've been following a lot of debate back and forth on this, and I'm not sure where I stand on it, really. I do think parts of the bill are unconsitutional and will ultimately hurt law enforcement, while other parts have long been needed.
I would welcome some other points of view on this. If you support it, why and what parts?
If you don't, the same: why and what parts? What would you do differently?