Arizona immigration law training videoPosted: Updated:
In just 28 days, the controversial Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration goes into effect. Opponents predict racial profiling from police, but a new training video out Thursday teaches officers how to avoid that and correctly enforce the law.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor is featured in parts of the video, and he talked about what it addresses and his remaining concerns about the law.
From the day SB 1070 was signed, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor had concerns with how it would be implemented, and how the public would respond, "I am absolutely certain there will be accusations of racial profiling no matter what we do with this law."
Racial profiling is the top fear for opponents of the new law. Each officer will undergo mandatory training, from this video released Thursday. It spends the first 15 minutes on how to avoid racial profiling.
Villasenor will instruct his officers to expect some people will attempt to "set up" officers in order to challenge the law, "To be honest, one of the concerns I have is I don't want my officers to shy away from contacting people because of fear of accusation of racial profiling."
The video gives officers examples of what might qualify as "reasonable suspicion" someone is in the country illegally, but Villasenor believes the definition of reasonable suspicion still isn't clear, "Could be vehicles riding in tandem, could be vehicles that are overloaded, people being very nervous, not talking to you, no eye contact. The issue is a lot of these elements are the same elements that could be reasonable suspicion for criminal conduct as opposed to illegal status in the country."
Villasenor says his biggest concern is the strain on his department resources.
One change, officers now must determine immigration status before releasing anyone arrested.
Last year TPD cited and released 36,000 people on minor offenses. Checking each of those immigration statuses will lead to many more hours of work and increased scrutiny.
"The only ones left hanging out to dry here is law enforcement. Either way we go, we're going to have elements from each side of the argument accusing us of misconduct. And that's one of my concerns with this now," says Villasenor.
Villasenor believes AZ Post, the agency that made the video, did a good job, but he believes the law was not specific enough in the first place. Still, he stresses his department will enforce it as it is written. Training will be mandatory for TPD officers, and the department will have to pay overtime for it.