Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

City Leaders Cave in to Demands of Political Activists Regarding PD Immigration Enforcement Policy

On Friday April 23, 2010 then Governor Jan Brewer signed SB-1070 into law. This legislation was known as the safe neighborhoods bill and was known locally as an illegal immigration bill.  

The bill as written required reasonable suspicion for officers to make contact and also contained language that allowed officers discretion in enforcing the law. The only MANDATES in the law are:

  1. Officers cannot stop a person based solely on race, color, or national origin (racial profiling) and
  2. “No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

Although the original law was challenged in Federal court and some provisions were struck down, the two provisions above remained intact.

One of the silver linings to come out of the entire controversy surrounding SB 1070 was the fact that the Phoenix Police Department came up with a very comprehensive, well written illegal immigration policy known as Operations Order 4.48.  This policy was extremely detailed with little gray area.  Officers knew what they could do and what they couldn’t do.  In fact, the policy was written in a manner that prevented abuse.  This is clearly evidenced by the fact that in the five plus years that Ops 4.48 has been in effect, Phoenix hasn’t had any validated complaints of racial profiling, biased policing or other race based civil rights violations.  There have been no complaints of Phoenix officers engaging in roundups or mass deportations.  Knowing this, most would ask why there is a need to overhaul a comprehensive  well written policy that isn’t broken.

On Wednesday February 15, 2017, a petition was submitted by a citizen requesting a vote by the City Council on sanctuary city status for Phoenix, a vote that was illegal on its face, since the City cannot vote on whether they will break the law, which would also violate their oaths of office.  City Attorneys had made the Mayor and Council aware of the fact the city could be fined up to $5000 / day and that they could potentially lose State Shared Revenues, as well as up to $83 million a year in Federal monies.

Despite this, the Council thought it a good idea to form a committee to review the Phoenix Police Department’s immigration enforcement policy; a policy already proven to be in compliance with State and Federal law.

Apparently the City didn’t feel it necessary to include representation from any police labor groups on any committees formed.  Here is what we do know.  The groups listed below are a coalition that has the City’s ear in making demands to change to the PD immigration policy.

  • The Center for Neighborhood Leadership or (CNL) headed up by local ACLU attorney Will Gaona.  CNL has pushed for the Phoenix municipal ID card as a first step to legitimizing the presence of those illegally in the country
  • Puente: a grassroots group formed in 2007 to combat cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities and to oppose SB-1070
  • Justice that Works: A grassroots group who believes police, prisons and deportation are unnecessary.   
  • Black Lives Matter (BLM) an activist group that, on a national level, has called for attacks against as well as for the murders of police officers.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): A group that has concentrated much of its efforts in Arizona on litigation regarding the support of illegal immigration.

CLICK HERE to view the proposed changes to Operations Order 4.48.  Yellow highlights indicate proposed new language to be added. Areas in gray with strike outs indicate proposed removals of language.  

Some of the more notable of the proposed changes are:

  1. Title of the policy was changed from Illegal Immigration Enforcement to Illegal Immigration Procedures.
  2. Sanctity of Life clause inserted.  By replacing “enforcement” with “procedures” the Department’s objective professional obligations required under the rule of law become subservient  to a subjective philosophical standard – a standard which is already included in and conducive to a Police Department Use of Force policy. 
  3. Prohibits Officers form asking crime victims and witnesses about legal status in the country.  This is a ludicrous change as it is often necessary to determine the status of victims and witnesses who may be in the country illegally to secure the necessary protections that will allow them to obtain temporary legal status until the case is adjudicated.  
  4.  Removes the ability of an officer to have discretionary contact with Federal Immigration partners.  Phoenix officers have the unfettered choice to contact and partner with any other Federal agency such as BATFE, FBI, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspectors, Secret Service and US Marshals.  
  5. Restricts all consensual contact with the public when dealing with the crime of Federal trespassing.  No other criminal conduct is afforded the benefit of muzzling police officers from common sense conversations which include questions like, “Who are you?”, “Where are you from?” and “What are you doing?”
  6. Restricts documentation.  Under proposed revision Section 6 on Page 7, the title “Documentation” is completely removed from the policy.  It appears out of a police department that currently employs a total of 3,981 men and women to investigate homicides, illegal narcotics, child abuse, sexual assault, gangs, robbery and felony DUI’s, only the Violent Crimes Bureau Desk Sergeant has the character, qualifications and competency to document immigration issues.
  7. Mandates the booking of illegal aliens who are in violation of criminal statutes.  This forces the city to spend scarce police manpower as well as limited taxpayer money.  Common sense and fiscal responsibility are forfeited when the local Federal authorities are available to remove the problem for free. 
  8. Strikes any reference to recognized laws and legal terms from the policy which is nothing more than pandering to a political agenda that discourages the ability of having an informed police force.

Prior to SB-1070 the Phoenix Crime statistics were telling.  In 1996 violent and property crimes were at an all time high with over 109,00 cases.  Proactive legislation and other steps were taken as illustrated on the following timeline:

  • 1996: A bill that required proof of citizenship to obtain a drivers license was passed
  • 2000: Bilingual education was banned
  • 2004: Phoenix PD publishes an extremely restrictive immigration policy [Ops 1.4.3]
  • 2004: Prop 200 passed banning public benefits for illegal aliens
  • 2006: 70% of voters approved ballot measures that placed restrictions on bail for illegals, denied in state tuition for illegals and made English the official language of Arizona 
  • 2007: Sanctions imposed for employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens
  • 2008: MCSO zero tolerance and PPD immigration policy changes went into effect
  • 2008: October of that year, Chief Jack Harris publishes an ENS message touting the significant drop in crime rates
  • 2009 SB 1070 drafted   
  • 2009: Phoenix hits a 20 year crime low with 74,786 violent and property crimes 
  • 2010: SB-1070 signed into law by Governor Brewer [Article 8 section F. of the law states counties and cities cannot establish or mandate policies that restrict local access to Federal immigration partners] 

Sanctions and policy changes worked so well in curbing out of control crime rates, Police Chief Jack Harris on October 15, 2008, published an ENS message to the department where he pointed out:

  • a 5% decrease in violent crime
  • a 24% decrease in Homicides
  • A 7% decrease in property crimes 
  • And an unprecedented 26% drop in auto thefts

Harris went on to give partial attribution to this significant reduction in crime to:

  • Development of a new immigration policy allowing officers to use their discretion [discretionary phone call to ICE]
  • And unprecedented cooperation between the Phoenix PD and Federal and State partners to include DPS, GITEM, and the Attorney General’s office as well as the ATF, FBI, DEA, ICE, and U.S. Postal service along with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

CLICK HERE to read the actual ENS

This message stands in stark contrast to Operations Order 1.4.3 that was published in April of 2004 under the direction of then Chief Harold Hurtt.  This policy was one page in length, and was highly restrictive and repeatedly use the phrase “Will Not” in telling officers all the things they would not do with regard to immigration enforcement.

CLICK HERE to read a copy of the 2004 version of Operations Order 1.4.3 

Front line officers who daily walk point are the first to come into contact with violent suspects who are often in the country illegally.

The following Phoenix Police officers paid the ultimate price at the hands of illegal aliens:

July 1, 1981: Detectives Ignacio Conchos and John Davis were shot by an illegal alien armed robbery suspect who was confronted in a dimly lit bar. Conchos died immediately, Davis succumbed to his wounds one month later  

May 27, 1988: Officer Ken Collings was murdered by an illegal alien carrying out an armed bank robbery.  The illegal was tied to a drug gang.

March 26, 1999: Officer Marc Atkinson was murdered by an illegal alien suspected of drug activity.

September 18, 2007: Officer Nick Erfle was murdered by an illegal alien during a subject stop for a civil traffic infraction.

October 25, 2008: Officer Shane Figueroa was killed by an intoxicated illegal alien who struck his patrol car.

May 19, 2013: Officer Darryl Raetz was struck and killed by an illegal alien who was DUI

The following Phoenix Officers were seriously injured by illegal aliens:

May 21, 1994: Phoenix Officer Saul Ayala was shot in the face by an illegal alien with a shotgun

September 15, 1977: SWAT Officers Jerry Kilgore and Jim Kliewer were shot by an illegal alien being sought on a probation violation warrant.

December 21 1997: Officer Brian Wilbur was seriously injured when he was struck by a car being driven by an intoxicated illegal alien.

March 26, 2001: Officer Jason Schecterle was severely burned when an illegal alien driving a taxi cab rear ended his patrol car at a speed in excess of 90 mph causing the patrol car to burst into flames.

April 12, 2003: Officer Robert Sitek was shot and seriously wounded by an illegal alien who fled from a stolen vehicle.

October 16, 2007: Officer Brett Glidewell was shot point blank in the chest by an armed illegal alien who had been stopped for a civil traffic violation. This would have more than likely wound up as yet another police fatality had it not been for Officer Glidewell’s body armor.

Although the above group of officers are listed as injured, not all were able to return to full duty and others only did so for a limited time before having to medically retire.

A final revision of Ops 4.48 is supposed to come out in the next week.  Police officers who daily man the front lines are the first to feel the impacts of flawed politically driven policies that encourage lawlessness and criminal behavior and illegally hamstring officers who are charged with enforcing the law.  

The famous quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is widely attributed to Spanish poet, philosopher, essayist and novelist George Santayana.  Let us hope that we will not be so short sighted by failing to remember what occurred with crime rates in Phoenix prior to getting a handle on the illegal immigration issue.

Past history tells us that when sanctuary city policies are in play and cops are told to take a hands off approach to certain kinds of law enforcement, there is a heavy price to pay.  Crime rates will go up, citizens will be victimized, and front line first responders will be needlessly placed at increased risk of becoming the next casualty.   

Let us hope that common sense and the rule of law rather will prevail with our City and Police leaders.  Reinventing the wheel and going back to a broken 2004 Harold Hurtt imigration policy for the sake of political correctness is a bad decision.  Pandering to the whims of  elites and political activists is also a bad decision.  Unfortunately, it will not be political activists, City leaders or Police managers that will bear the brunt of bad decision making.  It will be front line rank and file cops.