Hutchens: Cooperation is Central to Law Enforcement

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One of the most significant advancements made in the public safety arena over the last decade and a half has been the improved collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies at all levels of government. A concerted effort has been made to remove bureaucratic systems and communication barriers that had previously hindered responses to public safety challenges. These reform efforts have enabled successes in addressing threats to the homeland, responding to large scale emergencies, and in daily patrol work. Multilateral efforts allow law enforcement the opportunity to “connect the dots” on key cases and provide for more efficient use of taxpayer resources. Unfortunately legislation pending in Sacramento risks upending this best practice.

California Senate Bill 54 would severely restrict local law enforcement’s interactions with federal immigration enforcement authorities (ICE) on matters that are crucial to public safety. The bill regulates joint task force work, limits our ability to communicate with ICE regarding criminal undocumented immigrants in our custody, and outright precludes relaying information on undocumented immigrants who commit crimes like domestic violence and human trafficking. While the proposal allows some ability to communicate with ICE regarding violent offenders, the broader regulatory barriers created by this legislation will set back the progressive advancements made by law enforcement over the past 15 years.

Shared communication between the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the federal government has resulted in several dangerous undocumented offenders being removed from our community. Absent this communication such offenders would be released back onto the streets once they have completed their local sentences. In the past year the communication has enabled action on numerous serious offenders, examples include:

  • A 45-year-old male from Vietnam arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
  • A 56-year old male from Canada arrested for illegal narcotic sales.
  • A 21-year-old male from Mexico arrested on child molestation charges.
  • A 41-year-old male from Honduras booked for attempted murder.
  • A 29-year-old male from Mexico arrested on kidnapping and battery charges.
  • A 26-year-old male from El Salvador booked for domestic violence.
  • A 36-year-old male Egyptian arrested for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

Proponents of this bill argue that the legislation is necessary to ensure local police agencies are not participating in the enforcement of immigration law. This is a false premise. Enforcing immigration law is solely a federal responsibility. OCSD does not play a role in the day-to-day enforcement of these laws, and it is not part of our primary mission. In carrying out our patrol duties, we do not ask the immigration status of suspects, witnesses, or those who call to report crimes. Furthermore, California’s TRUST and TRUTH Act already provide legal assurances that coordination with the federal government is limited to violators of criminal law.

Legislative efforts to restrict communications amongst law enforcement agencies is not limited to the immigration issue. AB 90 would severely limit the effectiveness of a shared database utilized by local law enforcement to combat the activity of criminal gangs. AB 1578 proposes to restrict local law enforcement’s cooperation with the federal government in regards to marijuana enforcement, jeopardizing operations that target the profiteers of drug addiction. These three bills, however well-intentioned, remove vital tools for preserving public safety.

Statements from SB 54’s author indicate the motivation for the bill stems from a desire to show support for vulnerable immigrants. Unfortunately the proponent’s means of making a political statement compromises public safety. The principle of open communication amongst law enforcement agencies is non-partisan and should endure no matter who the voters elect to serve in office.   We can have varying opinions on immigration policy, but let’s stand united in support of efforts that will successfully keep dangerous offenders out of our communities.

Sandra Hutchens, Orange County Sheriff 

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • Ed Romero

    Co-operation is Central in Law Enforcement. Now I get it. Apparently you can Deal Drugs, Smoke Marijuana, Snort or Freebase Cocaine because you are Co-operating with Law Enforcement. I remember the entire 5 floors of the Probation Department full of Marijuana fumes, sometimes it looked like a Foggy day in Fresno. The cafeteria full of Law Enforcement Officers and NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT IT, it guess that’s called “Co-operating”. I remember our Security Guard/Deputy Sheriff saying “SOMEONE IS SMOKING MARIJUANA on the 5th Floor and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO”. He sure knew what to do with our Female Clerical Staff. What was it that former O C Sheriff use to call them “a bunch of PROMISCUOUS TRAMPS that can’t keep their panties up and their legs on the floor. I guess that’s another form of Co-operation in Law Enforcement.

  • Joel Block

    Sheriff Hutchens does a disservice to the rank & file officers who depend on local immigrant communities to support their law enforcement efforts. She attempts to draw a fine line between different types of cooperation with Trump-ordered ICE activities. She fails to understand that immigrant communities will not draw such fine lines. Trust by immigrants in law enforcement is extremely difficult. Trust is made impossible when politically-minded Sheriffs like Hutchens ignore a common-sense approach to community policing. Common sense dictates local law enforcement avoid all cooperation with toxic Trump politicization of the ICE agency. Any benefit obtained by earning brownie points with the Trump administration will be outweighed by alienation from immigrant communities.

  • RyanCantor

    “A concerted effort has been made to remove bureaucratic systems and communication barriers that had previously hindered responses to public safety challenges. ”

    Speaking of bureaucratic systems and communication barriers . . . remember when the Sheriff refused to respond to a legal court order concerning a major public safety challenge concerning jailhouse informants?

    Remember when the Sheriff’s employees refused to testify?

    #doublestandard

  • gustavoarellano

    Voice of OC: PLEASE don’t print spin like this. SO beneath you!

  • verifiedsane

    Is this the best your PR team could came up with Sandra? We know what you are, we know who you are, and we know what you have done….you’re persona is synonymous to applying lip stick on a pig…….The Sheriff’s and DA’s office are about as corrupt and untrustworthy as it can possible get… In fact, you should be under criminal indictment and sitting in your jail, along with your dirty cops and sleazy snitches….So why don’t you go crawl back in your hole…No one is buying your hogwash anymore…

  • OCservant_Leader

    The OC Sheriff thinks we should believe any of this?

  • LFOldTimer

    Hutchens isn’t worried about illegals. Good God. She’s been turning a blind eye to illegals for years. In fact OCSD sponsors social programs to acclimate non-English speakers to the US culture. ha. Hutchens is worried about losing her multi-million dollar ICE contract. It’s my understanding that SB54 would end all ICE jail contracts with California law enforcement agencies. It would take upwards of $25M out of Hutchen’s purse. Isn’t it interesting that she didn’t even address that in her little op-ed? lol. Same ‘ol disingenuous head fakes. What a shocker.

    Don’t take your eye off the ball, my friends. This is all about the MONEY.If she wanted to keep us safe she would’ve fired the cops who Judge Goethals accused of lying on the witness stand and withholding material evidence in criminal judicial proceedings.