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LAPD's Beck joins other chiefs to say Arizona immigration law could cripple law enforcement

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck joined other law enforcement leaders in Washington on Wednesday to slam Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, saying it could cripple police work and drive a wedge between officers and the communities they are trying to protect.

Beck has emerged as a leading critic of a new law that will make it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and will require police to check suspects for immigration paperwork. In a conference call with journalists after he and other police officials met with U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, Beck said “legislation like this inhibits us from doing our jobs” and will dissuade immigrants from coming forward as victims and witnesses.

“The fear of the police already inhibits immigrants from coming forward to a certain extent,” he said. “But if you add this piece you increase the reluctance tenfold.”

“People should remember that undocumented immigrants are witnesses in all kinds of crime and this does not just affect them,” Beck said. “If people don’t come forward to help the police solve and protect crime, no matter what their status, then we are doomed to failure. It threatens to destroy a lot of the work that has been done.”

Beck said that his officers are guided by a different set of rules than the ones laid out in the Arizona law. For more than three decades the LAPD has followed a policy that prohibits officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine whether he or she is in the country legally.

Beck and police chiefs from other cities, including Phoenix, Tucson, Philadelphia and Houston, told Holder they hoped for a federal solution to the immigration problem.

“The primary job of a local police department is not the enforcement of immigration status,” Beck said. “The primary job of law enforcement is to protect the public and keep us free from crime.”

During the hourlong meeting, Holder told the officials that a federal challenge to Arizona’s law may be imminent, according to participants.

“He did say that the Justice Department is seriously considering action and that it could be done soon,” said Chuck Wexler, the director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Holder has previously expressed dismay over Arizona’s new legislation, calling it “an unfortunate one.... It is, I fear, subject to potential abuse," Holder said.

Justice officials have said that they may challenge the law on two grounds – for subjecting people to racial profiling and for usurping the federal government's power to enforce immigration law.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (59)

Well, then I'd suggest that the chief not apply for any law enforcement jobs in Arizona.

Another loud mouth politician purposely being derelict in his duty to protect and serve. How can the Feds think this is usurping their power when they aren't doing anything to begin with. I think Arizona should countersue for the costs of all of the extra police work from the drug murders and kidnappings taking place because of the feds not controlling the border sufficiently.

YES- cause the criminals have such a great relationship with the police NOW.
What is he talking about?
Making sure the police have jobs?
This should have been done 20 yeara ago-hello???

Question for Charlie Beck:

Are you aware of California Penal Code 834b?

Have you read Californal Penal Code 834b?

If you are aware of California Penal Code 834b, and have read California
Penal Code 834b, do you understand California Penal Code 834b?

If you answered, "Yes!," to those questions, may I ask why you don't order your LAPD officers to enforce California Penal Code 834b?

Charlie, until you and your officers ENFORCE existing California laws regarding federal immigration laws, please sit down and shut up regarding Arizona SB 1070.....

One other thing, Charlie ~~ if an existing law serves to ".....drive a wedge between officers and the communities they are trying to protect," I suggest the FAILURE to enforce laws drives an even bigger wedge between officers and the LEGAL CITIZENS they are OBLIGATED to protect!!!

Hey Chief,

The community you're supposed to protect is the one that lives here legally, pays their taxes, and just tries to make it by in today's economy.

It does not include the people that have attained residency through illegal means, and who flood the employment market with cheap labor.

It is NOT the people who are violating U.S. law. They are are not here legally and they should be escorted, driven, forced back to wherever they came from.

What part of NO do you not understand???

Good job, Beck!


I guess he hasnt looked at the prison population. If he did he would see that a high percentage of these so called immigrants are the same criminals the police are supposed to protect us from...

This is ridiculous. Arizona is protecting its people, especially children. They are doing what the federal government is not. Has anyone seen the kidnapping rates of Phoenix????

This is unreal!
Illegal immigrants SHOULD NOT be allowed to remain in the United States and their illegal presence SHOULD NOT be condoned!

If you are in the country illegally, you are not an "immigrant", you are an "illegal alien".

I agree with an immigration law but asking local police to do the federal goverment's job, not a good idea! Local LE will get the short end of the stick on this deal.

According to Beck's logic, bank robbery should be made legal. That way, individuals who rob banks would be more likely to report crimes they have witnessed. Think how easy the job of law enforcement would be then.

This guy makes sense. In an age where the image of law enforcement is more tarnished than it has been since the wild and woolly days of the wild west, this man Beck makes the right points at the right time.

Immigration concerns are the baileywick of Immigration authorities, not cops, CPS, or other quasi-law enforcement agencies.

Kudos Beck! Never thought I would be caught saying anything like that, especially to any branch of California law enforcement!

I am from LA and I am amazed how much attention LA politicians and public figures are paying to what is happening in another state! While I understand the reason behind this opposition of the Arizona law. After all, we have so many latinos here in LA that in order for them to keep their jobs, they have to be against the Arizona law.
However, why is Beck saying this law is going to "drive a wedge between the police and communities?" Even if it is true, it would only be Arizona. Since California has no such law, why would there be such a wedge here? No one is going to enforce this law in California, so why would the millions of illegals here be distrustful of the LAPD? I think it is time California officials worried about what is happening in California and not about what is happening in another state.


that it was the Arizona law that forced Washington D.C. to stop ignoring Arizona state requests for assistance to properly police the border...?

Why, Why, Why, all Arizona is doing is re translating the federal Law it is illegal to be in the US without documentation. This law doesn't mean the police can jam everyone because they have the look of being an illegal immigrant. It's Suspects that have been arrested or are accused of a crime. They have the right to investigate whether they are here illegally.

Why does this not make sense to anyone. I am sure Beck is doing this because of Political pressure. The politicians are pretty smart and well educated and I can't think for 1 min that any of them in the privacy of their own home actually believe this is wrong. They need to stand up for whats right and wrong in this country.

Do people realize the amount of money that is exhausted on illegal immigration from Hospitals to Fire department call outs to our Police and court system. Enforce this get rid of the people who are here illegally and I am sure our budget crisis in L.A. and other places would soon fall into place.

But I'm sure they will find another place to waste the money.

Jim Rogers, you obviously don't understand California Penal Code Section 834(b). It merely orders California law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the INS in the event someone is arrested or suspected of being in violation of federal immigration laws. It does not order California law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody in connection with federal immigration laws, since only federal authorities can arrest somebody for violations of federal law. Neither Chief Beck nor anyone else in California law enforcement has said they won't cooperate with federal authorities in the event federal authorities arrest someone under this scenario.

California Penal Code: Do you enforce it, Beck? I didn't think so!

834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.

(b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:

(1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.

(2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States.

(3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity.

(c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly prohibited.

So, is there anybody who HASN'T YET come out against this awful Arizona law?
...from the President all the way down to the dog catcher.

Arizona is surrounded by a nation that opposes this law.

Beck said LAPD " prohibits officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine whether he or she is in the country legally" and if he could actually read he would see that Arizona's law says the same thing.
He also said "“The primary job of law enforcement is to protect the public and keep us free from crime.” I guess "public" means illegal aliens because he sure isn't enforcing the law and last I checked entering this country without permission is a crime!

What nattering nabobs of negativism. They don't even have a problem yet -- and really don't know if there will be any, not really -- and they're whining about it already. This makes me believe these guys are POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. Can't do the job? Hopefully there will be some law enforcement people in Arizona to show these people that it CAN be done. YES WE CAN!

Double standard again? What are they afraid of? These people are so stupid and they are Law Enforcers? They don't even know the law they are criticizing.

Associated Press

Bob Christie

PHOENIX — A veteran sheriff's deputy was shot and wounded Friday after encountering a group of suspected illegal immigrants who apparently had been hauling bales of marijuana along a major smuggling corridor in the Arizona desert — a violent episode that comes amid a heated national debate over immigration.

State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers in pursuit of the suspects after the deputy was shot with an AK-47 on Friday afternoon, and the search continued into the night. Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, had a chunk of skin torn from just above his left kidney, but the wound was not serious. He was released Friday night from Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.

The shooting was likely to add fuel to an already fiery national debate sparked last week by the signing of an Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.

Puroll was found in the desert after a frantic hourlong search, suffering from a gunshot wound, Pinal County sheriff's Lt. Tamatha Villar said. The 15-year department veteran had been performing smuggling interdiction work before finding the bales of marijuana and encountering the five suspected illegal immigrants, two armed with rifles.

Keg and Jay you need to boycott your own state for the economic sucking it is in and with the free handouts going to illegals the coffers are emptying faster than they should. Wake up people!

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