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Immigration crackdown hasn’t changed local police protocol

JULIE LANE PHOTO Police Chief Jim Read
JULIE LANE PHOTO Police Chief Jim Read

By keeping lines of communication open between police and the immigrant community, Chief Jim Read hopes to calm the waters that began roiling when the Trump administration began accelerated round ups several weeks ago in some areas of the country.

Police walk a line between cooperating with other law enforcement officials and meeting the human needs of individuals here, the chief said. Officers stopping people for routine traffic or vehicle violations don’t ask for identification pertaining to a person’s immigration status.

That would only come into play if the person is being arrested and fingerprinted on a felony charge and the fingerprint check reveals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have issued a warrant for an arrest.

Then local police would report they were detaining that person. But on Shelter Island, there is no provision for holding an individual for a long period. Generally, a person arrested here would be held overnight for court processing or turned over to another agency that had issued an arrest warrant.

That has always been the protocol and nothing Chief Read learned in a recent webinar sponsored by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman or a subsequent meeting with Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, Suffolk County Police and other municipal police chiefs has changed that process.

Local police aren’t charged with enforcing immigration laws now any more than they were during the Obama Administration, Chief Read said. It was a similar message he delivered just a few weeks ago, announcing that nothing has changed in the way he and his officers respond to matters involving undocumented immigrants.

“Our role is to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies,” he said.

The chief noted that there have been some arrests on Long Island, particularly in the Brentwood area of individuals involved in the narcotics trade. There have been no roundups of people similar to those in Greenport 10 years ago and only people for whom warrants had been issued were being sought by ICE.