Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory Committee talks immigration

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 3/7/17

Immigration policies were outlined, potentially misleading Facebook pages were discussed, and a new member representative made his first appearance March 1 at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s …

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Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory Committee talks immigration

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Immigration policies were outlined, potentially misleading Facebook pages were discussed, and a new member representative made his first appearance March 1 at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory Committee.

Addressing concerns about how immigrants might be treated by law enforcement in the county, Sheriff Dave Stanko noted that he’d cosigned the Jefferson County commissioners’ Feb. 6 Human Rights Proclamation, before he spelled out the policies of the Sheriff’s Office on immigration violations.

“I think 412.4 is the section that’s pertinent here,” Stanko said, as he read aloud from the three paragraphs under the heading “Considerations Prior to Reporting to ICE.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Policy Manual specifies that “the decision to arrest shall be based upon those factors which establish probable cause and not on arbitrary aspects.” While immigration status is not identified as one of those “arbitrary aspects,” the manual does go on to state that members of the Sheriff’s Office “should not attempt to determine the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses” or “take enforcement action against them.”

While the policy states that it is not intended to restrict sheriff’s deputies exchanging other law enforcement information with federal, state or local government agencies, it stipulates that deputies “need not report” crime victims or witnesses who are “undocumented immigrant(s)” to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless those people are violating criminal laws.

Stanko explained that this policy came from consultation with Lexipol, a private company that provides legal guidance to law enforcement agencies across the country, to ensure their policies are relatively consistent across agencies and within the boundaries of the law.

“Basically, they make sure that sheriffs and police chiefs like me stay out of our own jails,” said Stanko, who promised the policy guidelines would be posted online after receiving accreditation by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

Stanko likewise recalled the last time that the Department of Homeland Security was active in setting up roadblocks and checkpoints, and he pledged, “If they do that again, we will not participate.”

UNOFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Among the other topics addressed at the meeting, Stanko noted that a recently created Facebook page called “Jefferson County Washington” is not actually operated by the county. County officials are exploring their options with regard to the site, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Anna Phillips.

The committee also welcomed the Hoh Tribe as a new member at the meeting. While the tribe is among the groups that the Citizens Advisory Committee seeks to represent, March 1 marked the first time Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chair of the tribe, was in attendance.

Ashue commutes from Forks, on the other side of the county, to attend courses in tribal management, but he shrugged off the two-hour-plus drive time as a small price to pay.

Stanko noted that the Sheriff’s Office has two deputies permanently assigned to the west side of the county, to help address the tribe’s law enforcement needs.

The next meeting of the advisory committee is at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 4 at the Chimacum Fire Hall.

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