Attempting to Rationalize the Irrational: LA's Mayor Explains Why His Cops Shouldn't Cooperate with ICE

By Dan Cadman on February 13, 2017

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on MSNBC recently to restate his city's opposition to police cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Garcetti asserted during the interview, "I couldn't have my officers solving robberies, homicides, rapes, burglaries if they suddenly become deputized ... we would stop solving crimes in Los Angeles if we became immigration agents."

It is so exasperating and tiresome to constantly read and hear such deliberate mischaracterizations. No one wants LAPD officers actively taking on the work of ICE agents, most especially ICE. But I don't suppose it has occurred to Garcetti that cooperation between the two organizations might radically reduce the number of robberies, homicides, rapes, and burglaries LAPD has to contend with. Let me give an example of how cooperation might work in the real world:

LAPD officers obtain a warrant to search the house of a suspected fence, a receiver of stolen property. When they first arrive, they find the suspect in the front room with three other individuals talking and drinking beer. The suspect and the other three individuals are temporarily held in that room for officer safety reasons while the warrant is being served. The officers keeping them immobile during the search identify the other three individuals via systems checks as affiliated with a notoriously violent transnational gang known to have a substantial number of illegal-alien members, and all three have criminal rap sheets reflecting foreign birth.

During execution of the warrant, officers find ample evidence of stolen property in the back bedroom of the house, and the suspect is duly arrested. However, the other three deny knowledge of what was in the back bedroom; the suspect also denies that they knew, and there is no evidence to link them to the stolen property even though there is every common-sense reason to believe they knew and were even involved in the thefts. Under current LAPD rules, the officers will be obliged to release them, absent any outstanding warrants, even though they know that to do so is to put hardened criminals back on the street.

If, however, LAPD had a cooperative working agreement with ICE — for instance, under the 287(g) program — these officers would be within their rights to hold the three individuals as suspected deportable alien criminals until ICE could arrive, take custody, and initiate removal proceedings. What is more, the officers undertaking this action corollary to their own duties would enjoy the same immunities as federal officers, thus risking no legal action against either them or their department.

Either Mayor Garcetti knows little or nothing about the real nature of police work and the value of cooperative efforts for the enhanced safety of the community he represents, or he is deliberately misleading the public to further an anti-enforcement agenda. One thing is clear, he is content to spout tired old saws that are devoid of either logic or substance.