One of the many roles for the Sheriff, as the head elected law enforcement official of the county, is to advocate for changes of law enforcement practices within the county that will improve public safety.
As Sheriff, I'll advocate for:
Placing power back in the hands of the public with meaningful Civilian Oversight Committees within each jurisdiction.
Cash bond reform for low-level, non violent, and non habitual offenders. The current system causes thousands of people across the country to sit in holding facilities for long periods of time while awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to pay bond. The current system, at times, encourages plea bargains from the less fortunate simply so the person can avoid an inconvenience.
Equitable and unbiased community based policing.
Diversifying the workforce to reflect the communities that each jurisdiction serves. This enhances public safety by allowing citizens to come in contact with approachable civil servants with whom they can identify.
The end of abusive/unethical practices, such as:
- Disenfranchisement of voters in the county jail. Many people being temporarily held or confined for misdemeanors have the right to vote and should be given the opportunity.
Having nontransparent and antiquated systems which makes it difficult to locate information the public needs to hold government agencies accountable.
Giving preferential treatment to certain people based on celebrity and/or occupational status when others are not afforded such privileges. Everyone deserves due process under the law. However, no one is entitled to favoritism which is indicative of classism and undermines equitable law enforcement. Such practices have no place in bias free policing.
287(g) Impact on Public Safety
What is 287(g)?
287(g) is a voluntary agreement that local law enforcement enters into with ICE in order to deputize officers/deputies to perform the role of immigration officers.
Does 287(g) have an overall positive impact on public safety?
Short answer is 'No.' There are many individuals from communities impacted by 287(g) that are reluctant to call the police and report a crime in fear that they, someone they love, or an associate may have their immigration status checked and deported. The cooperation of some of these individuals have led to the conviction of murderers, rapist, and other violent criminals. This policy contradicts theories of community policing which has been proven to have a positive impact on public safety.
But, aren't there protections in place for victim's of crime who are afraid to report crime?
There are protections in place (U Visas) but the protections aren't sufficient enough to remove the fear of deportation if a person willingly interacts with law enforcement. There is a cumbersome process for U-Visas due to bureaucracy, politics, and backlog. It requires you to be a victim of certain crimes and some legitimate victims and/or their families may still face deportation even after reporting criminal activity.
Why do agencies decide to voluntary comply?
Political expediency. Currently, immigration is a 'hot button' topic on the national stage and there are many that want an easy way to appear "tough on crime." The approach is simple and appears to be a reasonable solution to the uninformed voter. Most agencies don't voluntarily comply as I'm sure they are well aware of the negative impact this actually has on community oriented policing. There are over 15,000 Law enforcement agencies in the United States. According to ICE, 79 agencies across 21 states voluntarily comply with 287(g). Tarrant County (estimated population of 2M people) is the most populous county in the country that voluntarily complies and this is at the Sheriff's discretion.
Is it true that undocumented immigrants may be released back into society after committing a crime and is it the Sheriff's duty to ensure that doesn't happen?
Yes but this is the case for most of the accused (even citizens). This is because "presumption of innocence"and "due process"are basic rights of ALL PEOPLE accused of committing a crime in this country. Bond may/may not be set by a magistrate at arraignment and the amount requested may be substantially higher depending on if the accused is a flight risk and/or committed a violent felony. The amount and decision to allow the accused to post bail is at the discretion of a magistrate. Voluntarily complying with 287(g) also comes at a monetary cost to taxpayers. In 2017, Harris County, TX Sheriff's office decided to end voluntary compliance. A hefty $675,000/yr unreimbursed cost to Harris County, TX tax payers was mentioned as a factor in deciding to end the agreement.
Will you end the voluntary 287(g) agreement and what will the Sheriff's Office do to enhance public safety under your command?
I WILL ABSOLUTELY SEEK TO END THE AGREEMENT! For every quantifiable, positive stat you can spin as evidence of the need for policies like 287(g), you can rest-assure there are more instances of it's failure. Voluntary compliance of 287(g) is discriminatory, encourages divisiveness in our community, and undermines efforts to positively impact public safety through community oriented policing.
The Sheriff's office under my command will seek to foster an environment in which human beings are treated with dignity and have the confidence to contact local law enforcement to report criminal activity. Who wants to live in a community where someone who may have committed domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violent felonies lives undetected amongst us because a victim was afraid to interact with local law enforcement? Even with things in place to ease fears, the system has proven that there is no guarantee that a victim or their loved ones will be protected after speaking to law enforcement. We will spend your tax dollars to do the job we were tasked to do at the county level (enhance public safety and maintain the jail). ICE will be left to do the job that they were called upon to do.