When Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law more than two years ago, she issued a directive to the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board to implement a training program for officers around the state on how to properly enforce provisions regarding those suspected of living in the U.S. illegally.
Although police departments work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement whenever needed, law enforcement throughout the East Valley say they remain in a “holding pattern” — until other court motions involving SB 1070 are completed — before officers enforce the law when they encounter evidence of persons to be in the U.S. illegally, said Lyle Mann, executive director of AZPOST.
The “papers, please” provision is not enforceable until U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton signs off on the order, keeping local police departments at the center of a waiting game until she does.
“We’ve done everything else we can do and I think agencies have done all they can do,” Mann said. “We’ll see when this goes into effect and make adjustments if necessary.”
But are officers ready?
“Now that we have some sort of time frame, the officers are getting ready and will be ready,” Mann added.
A Tempe police spokesman echoed Mann’s comments.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re pretty much in a holding pattern with that particular sub-section of the law because we’re waiting until all of the other motions to be dealt with before we do anything,” said Sgt. Jeff Glover, a Tempe police spokesman.
Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler police spokesman, echoed Glover’s comments.
“We are still waiting for any changes that may come down from the court,” Favazzo said. “Currently we are following our policy and will continue to do so until SB 1070 goes into effect. At that time, we will address any changes we may need to make in our current policy.” “We had already revised our policies and begun our training in anticipation of a ruling from the court,” Favazzo added. “The training includes a one-hour video from AZPOST that we are requiring all police department employees to view. It will be followed up by an in-person presentation of an additional hour by our legal advisors which will more specifically address the changes in statutes and policies.”
Mesa, the East Valley’s largest city and the third largest in the state, added to its procedures in 2008, for officers to inquire about citizenship statuses of people if they are arrested. Following the high court’s decision, Mesa will revise its protocol.
Mesa’s current policy states that if the person is a crime victim, a witness, a juvenile or is stopped or cited for a civil traffic violation with a valid driver’s license or is able to present identification, Mesa police will not check that person’s immigration status. However, if someone is arrested, and there’s sufficient reason to believe that the person is in the country illegally, Mesa police will contact ICE.
“Other than a few changes in the wording to our policy, there will really be no real noticeable change in the way we operate,” said Detective Steve Berry, a Mesa police spokesman.
The law should have little impact on the Gilbert police department, according to police spokesman Bill Balafas.
“Our responsibility within the framework of the constitution is to enforce the laws enacted by the Legislature and upheld by the courts,” Balafas said.
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