On September 21, Fairfax County, Va., officials suspended a police officer after he determined via database checks that an individual involved in a vehicle accident he was investigating was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He did the right thing by turning over that individual — who had failed to appear for his removal hearing in front of an immigration judge — to ICE.
Think about that. If an individual failed to appear before a state judge, who then issued a bench warrant, no one would question that the right thing to do was to take him into custody to respond to his judicial charges. Yet this officer was suspended by county authorities solely because they chose not to acknowledge the legitimacy of an immigration court hearing, even though it's underwritten by federal law. Needless to say, Fairfax County, like Montgomery County, Md., is a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction and, just as in Montgomery County, has proven itself completely clueless by its conduct. One wonders what's hidden behind the screen in Fairfax that we're not privy to. How many violent criminals or sexual predators has Fairfax County released rather than honor ICE detainers? It was only when the police and prosecutors (and some of the victims) in Montgomery County got fed up and started feeding selected information to the media that we came to know exactly how much Montgomery County's sanctuary policies had damaged community safety and led to more victims.
I'm happy to report that, once the news got out, there was a hue and cry throughout Fairfax County, and indeed the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, that clearly left county officials caught off guard, (even though it shouldn't have), as a result of which the county reversed itself. As of October 4, it will reinstate the officer to his position. Still, we're left with a few questions.
First: What about the officer's missing salary for those few days? That may seem like a small matter to some, but I'm betting that, like most Americans, he lives paycheck to paycheck and should not be penalized at all.
Second, does "restoration" leave a blemish on the officer's record? Or is everything wiped clean? And did Fairfax County authorities squeeze the officer into any kind of "hold harmless" or confidentiality agreement before he was put back on the force? If so, these should be considered null and void, and he should sue the county for having damaged both his career and his reputation.
Third, we're left wondering what Fairfax County's current sanctuary policy is. If it's unchanged, that's a tacit admission that they were bending solely to public pressure without the underlying recognition that it was their policy that was flawed. And, if it has changed, then they should announce it and acknowledge that the original position should never have been enacted to begin with.
I hope sincerely that the media doesn't let the story drop quickly just because of the officer's restoration. I suspect that is exactly what county officials are hoping for, so that they can go back to business as usual, no matter who is put at risk by such unenlightened policies that protect criminals at the expense of the community.