After a “small number” of Prince George’s County police officers mistakenly detained residents on a civil immigration matter, the department said it immediately began a training process for officers to not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Police Chief Hank Stawinski said in a video released this week that the department will not serve civil warrants for ICE that include a summons before a judge, removal or deportation orders.
“The Prince George’s County Police Department has not and will not enforce civil process of any kind,” he said in the video.
Although the police department hasn’t worked alongside ICE on noncriminal cases, the department wanted to publish the five-minute video and document rules to ensure the practice never happens again.
The video also shows some documents the department wrote to specifically explain and help officers and the community that ICE agents will not be alerted on civil matters.
Stawinski highlighted an example of warrant that shows “administrative warrant of arrest” are “civil in nature.” An example of a criminal warrant was also shown in the video from the National Crime Information Center database managed by the FBI.
Officers are now instructed to contact a supervisor to check if any warrants on undocumented immigrants are active based on a civil or criminal offense. If the FBI database shows a warrant remains active and confirmed by a dispatcher, then an officer may cooperate with ICE for criminal matters such as money laundering, human trafficking and terrorist activities.
If an officer remains uncertain on the status of a warrant, then that person should contact a supervisor to get more direction. In addition, the video explains a person cannot be held by police for more than an hour.
“This new written policy confirms our department’s long-standing policy that prohibits us from initiating an investigation or taking law enforcement action solely based on a person’s actual or perceived immigration status,” John “Zeek” Teletchea, police union president, says in the video. “Individuals are not required to prove their citizenship, or immigration status.”
On Tuesday, county Councilwomen Deni Taveras and Dannielle Glaros presented legislation called “unity” to ensure all residents are welcomed in the county. The highest concentration of immigrants reside in their districts that include Hyattsville, Langley Park and Riverdale.
“In light of the national anti-immigrant and refugee rhetoric, the County Council of Prince George’s County comes together to reaffirm our support of all immigrants and refugees,” the resolution states. “The urgency of this moment in our United States history calls us to stand against radicalized tactics of deportation and immoral expressions of racisms that are tearing families apart and seek to divide us as a county, state and nation.”