Phoenix Police Immigration Policy

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Anyone arrested in Phoenix will be questioned about his or her immigration status. If an officer makes contact with someone who did not commit a crime but is still believed to be in the country illegally, the officer can give ICE that person’s contact information over the phone or via a one-page form. Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris talks about changes to Phoenix Police Immigration policy (Operations Order 1.4).


José Cárdenas:
Good evening and welcome to "Horizonte." I'm José Cárdenas. The Phoenix Police Department implements changes to a revised immigration policy. Plus, in S.O.C., Sounds of Cultura, a Spanish opera tells the story of a poet and actress, and the historical shadow of the Spanish civil war. And, how the Better Business Bureau is reaching out to help Latino consumers. All this coming up ahead on "Horizonte."

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José Cárdenas:
A draft of the phoenix police immigration policy, known as operations order 1.4 was released back in February. It included recommendations of a four-man panel appointed by Mayor Phil Gordon to help Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris in revising the policy. Now, a policy with changes differing from some panel recommendations was announced and went into effect last week. Joining me to talk about the new policy and changes is Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris. Chief Harris, it's good to have you back. The last time you were on the show, we talked about those panel recommendations and we had some of the panel members here. Before we get into the details of the policy, the final policy, I want to talk about the process. December the mayor announces he is appointing this panel. You had already been in the process of looking at the policy.

Jack Harris:
That's correct. We had an internal committee that had approximately 20 members of the department working on a revision to the Policy 1.4 for about a month prior to December. We started in November. And then in December, the mayor announced that he was putting together his panel of four experts. So we stopped work on the internal revisions and waited for the recommendations to come in from the panel.

José Cárdenas:
And then the recommendations came out. What happened next in terms of the process that brought us to this last week when you announced the final version?

Jack Harris:
Actually they made their recommendations to us in February. And from that time until now, we have taken the policy, came up with final version with all of those recommendations and then at the same time we started to implement the training because we wouldn't put that kind of a policy change out without training all of the officers and supervisors in the department of what the changes are.

José Cárdenas:
I assume getting a sense for logistically how it would work out?

Jack Harris:
Sure. Looking at what the impact would be to the officers and to the supervisors and getting their input during the training process to see if there was anything that we needed to change or address in the policy before we actually sent it to the publisher and distributed the policy.

José Cárdenas:
In terms of differences between the original policy, the Powell recommendations that you then incorporated into your draft, and what came out, I want to review that. Originally Phoenix Police would ask questions about immigration status on routine stops. I understand that you had human smuggling and other instances where those questions were asked because they are particularly relevant. But originally, those questions were asked if someone was arrested, am I right?

Jack Harris:
Yes.

José Cárdenas:
And that was pretty much the only circumstance. And then, the recommendations from the panel, what difference was there between the original policy and what they were recommending?

Jack Harris:
Actually, the two committees, the internal committee and the mayor's committee, the recommendations that came out of both of those committees pretty much paralleled each other. The real differences was that what happens when we come in contact with someone, are we going to get involved in routine immigration enforcement? And at what point would officers be allowed to ask about immigration status and go further by contacting I.C.E.? The differences between the original policy and then what we came up with after the recommendations is that there's a couple of different ways where officers would have a little bit more leeway in contacting I.C.E. to attempt to access their databanks to see if they had any information on people involved in criminal investigations. Not administrative immigration investigations but criminal investigations. So the end result was that the officers now have the ability if they're conducting a criminal investigation, I think that's very important for everyone to understand. That we're talking about a criminal investigation. If they're involved in that type of an investigation and they feel that contacting I.C.E. to access their databanks would be valuable in conducting that investigation, they can conduct the supervisor, run that information by the supervisor and get permission to call I.C.E. to access their databanks. If they have someone that they have come into contact that they believe is in the country illegally and they want to forward that information to I.C.E., they may now do that under the new policy by filling out an I.C.E. notification form, sending that to a supervisor and then it will be forwarded on to I.C.E.

José Cárdenas:
I wanted to discuss some scenarios into which this policy would apply. But before we do that, what are the differences between the panel recommendations back in February and this final version of the policy?

Jack Harris:
There's really very difference between the draft policy that we announced in February and the final policy that we announced last week. The only real difference and it's a slight difference with the recommendation from the committee is that if an officer pulls a vehicle over and several of the people inside the vehicle appear to be real bad guys, they're tatted up with gang tattoos, they have a weapon in the vehicle, a number of things that would lead the officer to believe this is some really bad individuals and I want to try to access every databank that I can to find out who I'm dealing with here. They could call a supervisor and run the scenario by the supervisor and probably get permission to call I.C.E. to check their databanks to see if they could give them any additional information on these guys that were in the car. That is the only real difference between the draft and the final policy.

José Cárdenas:
What do you think then explains the reaction from the groups on both sides of this issue? Back in February, the people who were opposing any changes seemed not real happy but relatively satisfied with the panel recommendations. On the other hand, "PLEA," Police Law Enforcement Association, the police union, was very critical of the panel recommendations. And yet, now that the final's come out, you have PLEA saying it's pretty much what they wanted; it's giving them the discretion they were looking for, and I think the quote was 75-80% of what they wanted. They are happy. You got some compliments, a little backhanded, but some compliments from the sheriff and from the county attorney on this. On the other hand, people who were opposed to the changes seem to think that this is worse than what was recommended in February. What accounts for those reactions?

Jack Harris:
I really think to a great extent, some people have looked at what was said at the press conference and then interpreted that without actually looking at the policy. And maybe some people on both sides are looking at it and thinking, "Oh, this gives officers leeway to stop everyone, ask them about their immigration status and call I.C.E. and hold people for I.C.E. to come out and arrest them." It doesn't do that. And on the other side, I think some people looked at it and say, "Gee, it doesn't go far enough." I think it's just a few people that need to really look at the policy and understand what the limitations are and what the leeway is that is granted in the policy before they take a stand that it's good or it's bad or goes too far or doesn't go far enough. I think it's just a little bit of confusion on exactly what the policy now states because it's really focused on community safety and on criminal investigations. It's not focused on doing immigration enforcement. It does not give that kind of authority to the officers.

José Cárdenas:
In that respect, the overall policy of City of Phoenix Police has not changed?

Jack Harris:
It has not changed. Our philosophy of the City of Phoenix and of the phoenix police department is that we will go after criminals in our community. We will prosecute them. We will -- hopefully they will do their sentence. If they're in the country illegally, they will be turned over to I.C.E. and they'll be deported. If you are not a criminal but you're here in the country as a day laborer or something on that order, you should not fear the Phoenix Police Department because we are not doing immigration enforcement. We are not trying to enforce the immigration laws of the United States. We are focused on people who are committing crimes regardless of where they are born.

José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about how the new policy would apply in a traffic stop. What would the officer do to determine, if anything, immigration status of the person who has been stopped?

Jack Harris:
Well, they -- if the person who is stopped, has a valid identification, government identification, they would have a valid passport, they would have a birth certificate, they would have a valid driver's license from wherever they are from. That person would not be considered a flight risk. So they would be written a citation to come to court just as you or I would be written a citation to come to court because the officer's trying to determine if you're a flight risk and are you eligible for a citation in lieu of booking you into jail? So on a normal traffic stop if the person had valid identification, had a place of business -- place of residence here locally and they did not have a history of failure to appear, the officer would probably write them a citation and have them come to court. The problem comes in where someone gets pulled over; they do not have valid identification. They cannot prove who they are. They may be in the country illegally. But then what's going to happen is they are going to get arrested because they would be considered a flight risk by the officer. The officer can't guarantee that this person is going to show up for court or have a reasonable belief that the person is going to show up for court. So in that situation with no identification, with not being able to show who you are, where you live, where you work, that person is probably going to get arrested on the traffic ticket and failing to provide identification. Then they're going to get booked into jail and they're going to get turned over to I.C.E. if they are in the country illegally.

José Cárdenas:
Now the concern of those who expressed concerns about the policy is that despite what you just said, the fair-skinned, perfect-English speaking Canadian who has no identification is not going to be arrested. There's not going to be anything done with respect to I.C.E. And the person who is dark-skinned and has a heavy Spanish accent is going to be subject to those further procedures. How do you guard against that?

Jack Harris:
Well, the key in the policy is the supervisor oversight. Any of these contacts where people are going to get turned over to I.C.E. or I.C.E. is going to be contacted or they are going to be booked into jail, a supervisor is going to be able to review that paperwork. They're going to be able to review the request that comes in over the phone from the officer to make contact with I.C.E. In the documentation that the officer is going to be required to fill out in all of these incidents, they are going to have to show what the reason was for the stop. What the probable cause was that there was a crime committed and why they needed to contact I.C.E. or why this person was booked into jail. In the case that you talked about that just simply they would be treated the same both ways because if you don't have identification, if you're pulled over and you don't have identification and they can't prove who you are, you are going to be considered a flight risk. And we're going to book you into jail. So the supervisor oversight is the way that we prevent civil violations and that we also prevent racial profiling from occurring.

José Cárdenas:
Chief, are you going to have some kind of monitoring system, periodic review to see how this is working?

Jack Harris:
Yes, that was one of the recommendations that came from the mayor's committee, as well as our own committee. What we're planning on doing is probably at the first six-month break and then at a year, we will look at all of the forms that have been submitted. We'll look at the policy. We'll look at the number of times that officers have been calling their supervisor for permission to contact I.C.E. And we'll review what the circumstances were. Then we'll be able to decide at that point if the policy needs further revisions or tweaking.

José Cárdenas:
Chief, one other incidence; perhaps THE incident that really kicked off a lot of the controversy and perhaps influenced the mayor's decision to call for revisions to the policy was the killing of Officer Erfle. His widow spoke at the press conference where you announced the new policy. What impact do you think that had?

Jack Harris:
I think it had tremendous impact on the community. It certainly had tremendous impact with me and internally with our officers on the department. The fact that this woman whose husband was murdered by an illegal immigrant that would stand up and say that we need to look at both the enforcement end and the humanitarian end of this entire immigration topic and that she supports the policy, I think that sent a tremendous message to the community that if she feels this way and that there needs to be a solution that the state or the federal level to the immigration issue, I think that's tremendous.

José Cárdenas:
Chief, we're almost out of time. I know that Operations Order 1.4 is not the only thing you've been focused on. We've got about 30 seconds; other things that are important in terms of the Phoenix Police Department and where you are going in the future.

Jack Harris:
Couple of things. Number one we are opening two new precincts over the next 18 months and that is going to have a tremendous effect on the community and the southwest and the northeast portion of the city because it will give more officers on the department the adding of 400 police officers over this year and next year. That is going to be huge. We hope that is going to improve our response times and the crime rate. And the other thing is the recruitment that is the one of the biggest challenges that I have and most of the chiefs have in the Valley and the state is trying to fill all of the positions that we have vacant. We have 400 new positions to add to our department. And in addition to that, we lose approximately 150 people a year through attrition. So that means each year we have to find 350 qualified people to get through the academy and only about one out of 10 applicants actually makes it to all of the training and becomes an officer after a period of one year.

José Cárdenas:
Chief, thank you for joining us tonight to talk about Operations Order 1.4 and these others, maybe we can have you back on to discuss them at more length.

Jack Harris:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
The Phoenix Symphony continues to introduce the valley to various opera genres, including Spanish language opera and recently presented "Ainadamar", sung in Spanish. In "Horizonte's" S.O.C., Sounds of Cultura," Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez tells you what makes this opera unique. [music]

Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez:
Drama, passion and sadness all key ingredients of a great opera. Although Italian may be the official language of the dramatic works, this opera is a classical art performed in Spanish. This dramatic performance is -- a story of a Spanish dramatist and poet who was killed by Spanish nationalist militia in 1936. Kelly O'Connor, an up-and-coming Opera artist, plays a role created in 2003 just for her because of her distinct dark mezzo soprano voice.

Kelly O'Connor:
It's something so different and new, and I really think it's a great new voice for opera. I think if people think they're coming to an opera, they might be a little surprised. But I think that's what's great about it.

Michael Christie:
It's fun because I hear all these different sounds that I don't usually hear. the Latin percussion, the Flamenco guitars. Of course, very nice friends that are signing. But also, we add elements that are very emotional and very stark. And that's very exciting to bring into a typical symphonic performance that certain operatic quality you can only get in the moment. [music]

Kelly O'Connor:
He's there every time. You wouldn't miss the performance of an opera about him I don't think. so every time before we do it, I say, okay, let's go. He's there. I just feel, you know, because it's -- that way if it's not about you, and if it's about the message in general it just becomes so much more liberating for you as an artist. And for the audience I think it's much more enjoyable. [music]

José Cárdenas:
The Better Business Bureau wants the Hispanic community to know about information and resources available to help them make decisions as consumers. Joining me to talk about what they are doing is Ayana Meraz, Hispanic liaison for the Better Business Bureau for central and northern Arizona. Ayana, welcome to "Horizonte."

Ayana Meraz:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
We talked about some initiatives that the Better Business Bureau was devoting to the Hispanic community about a year ago. I think it was your predecessor. Talk about those initiatives and what's happened since then.

Ayana Meraz:
The Hispanic initiative started in 2005. What we have accomplished since those initiatives started is we translated all of our complaints, we offer all of our services in Spanish, we have all of journal of advice to consumers available in Spanish as well, we also do a lot of outreach in the community, we do presentations to monolingual speakers about our services, about preventing identity theft and all the other services that the better business bureau offers.

José Cárdenas:
What impact do you think those initiatives will have?

Ayana Meraz:
We have seen a definite impact in the services that we offer and with all of the options that we're doing. Since it's inception, we've seen an increase in resolutions that we do with consumers, we've seen an increase in calls and we've also seen an increase in requests for those complaints to send out to the consumers.

José Cárdenas:
How does the dispute resolution part of it work? You get a complaint and then you contact the business yourself?

Ayana Meraz:
Yes, when the consumer calls us and they have an issue with the company, with the service or a product, we first suggest the consumer contact that company to try and resolve that issue. If that has happened already and they were not able to resolve the problem we can mail them, fax them or they can access our website and get that complaint form. And then when they fill it out, we take it if it's in Spanish, we translate it and we then send it to the company to let them now that the consumer is unhappy with the product and the service that they've received.

José Cárdenas:
Do you have any sense for how many of these complaints are related to companies that focus on the Hispanic market or dealing with their consumers in Spanish and therefore you wouldn't have to translate and how many are other companies that you would be perhaps a language barrier is the real problem.

Ayana Meraz:
There's problems because the consumer might not speak English as you were saying. So when they sign a contract or they're sold a service they do not know exactly what that contract states and they sign that contract. So there's a definitely a language barrier between the business owner and the consumer purchasing the product or service. So there's just a different range of type of businesses that cater to the Hispanic community and perhaps when the service is sold in Spanish, it's not really what's in the contract and once that contract is signed --

José Cárdenas:
So the sales representatives may be speaking Spanish but the documents --

Ayana Meraz:
Yes, they might. When they hear the sales pitch they really don't know that what's in the contract is different from what they were told.

José Cárdenas:
Are there any particular areas where you get a particularly high number of complaints?

Ayana Meraz:
It comes down to a lot of contract issues because like I was saying, they don't know what they're signing. And when they take that contract to someone that they trust later on that can translate what it is that they signed, they don't realize that, you know, they signed, you know, away maybe their right to get their refund within a certain period of time and they were not aware of their rights that they had in that amount of time.

José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about your job as Hispanic liaison. What does that entail?

Ayana Meraz:
In the Hispanic Outreach Department, what we're trying to do is inform the consumers about our services. We want to make sure the community knows that we are there, that all of our services are free. That they can contact us before they buy a product or a service from a company and make an informed decision about that product or service from the consumer. We just want them to know that we are there. That they can contact us. That all of our services are free.

José Cárdenas:
And I think we have the phone number on the screen right now.

Ayana Meraz:
Yes, that phone number is 602-264-1721. We have a team that is bilingual so they can take that call from the Spanish-speaking consumer. They can also go on our website arizona.bbb.org. And there's also a link on there in Spanish where they can access that information as well.

José Cárdenas:
Now, I understand you have a new branding campaign?

Ayana Meraz:
That's right. We started a new branding in late of 2007. And what that branding is, is formally our acquired businesses were known as members, which meant that they were in the good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Now those businesses are called accredited businesses because that reflects that we have checked up on that company to make sure that they are, in fact - that they have all their licenses for example if it's a real estate company that wants to become an accredited company, we make sure they are up to date with the real estate licenses with the state of Arizona. If they sell a financial service, we make sure they have that license with the Department of Financial Institutions. We really want consumers to know that when they call us and they ask for a list of accredited businesses, they can trust that company that they were going to receive their product or service that they were looking for.

José Cárdenas:
When you get a complaint is it limited only to companies that are already members of the bureau? You only deal with those companies?

Ayana Meraz:
No, we deal with all companies. It doesn't matter if they are an accredited business or not. What does matter is that if it's an accredited business, they have to resolve the problem with the consumer and work with them to be able to stay in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. We also take complaints from companies across the nation. We're a national organization. And if the company's headquartered outside of the state of Arizona, we mail that complaint to another state so that the bureau that handles that headquarters for that company can help them resolve it.

José Cárdenas:
Ayana, we're out of time now. But thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

Ayana Meraz:
Thank you very much.

José Cárdenas:
Due to special pledge programming here on Eight, "Horizonte" will be back on Thursday night in two weeks. Thank you for watching tonight's show. I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

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