Arizona lawmakers and candidates have touted SB 1070 as the tool that AZ law enforcement needs to fight the “murder, terror, and mayhem” along the US-Mexico Border. At the same time that more and more reports are surfacing dispelling the claim of increasing border violence, law enforcement have been coming out claiming the new law won’t help law enforcement, but rather will make their jobs tougher.
Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris has disputed the claim that the law provides them any useful tools, saying:
Proponents of this legislation have repeatedly said that the new law provides a tool for local law enforcement. But I don’t really believe that that’s true or accurate. We have the tools that we need to enforce laws in this state to reduce property crime and to reduce violent crime, to go after criminals that are responsible for human smuggling, to go after criminals that are responsible for those home invasions, kidnappings, robberies, murders. We have those tools.
What it does provide, he said, is “a tool to divert our officers from investigating property crimes and violent crimes” and in so doing takes his officers’ attention away from their core mission: keeping communities safe.
Prima County Sheriff Dupnik has come out in opposition to the law, saying SB 1070 would force his deputies to adopt racial profiling as an enforcement tactic, which he recognizes could also get him sued. “So we’re kind of in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. It’s just a stupid law.”
Many Arizona law enforcement officials are concerned that SB 1070 will distort police priorities. Because the law requires local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law to the fullest extent permitted by federal law, at the same time that it allows Arizonans who believe an agency is not complying with the law to sue, they worry that officers will have to make immigration enforcement their main priority over all other types of crime.
Colorado Springs Chief Richard Myers illustrated the real effects the situation could have on officers and community safety when he said, “If I have a shots-fired call or the potential to stop someone who might be checked for documented status, I’m going to do that before I respond to shots fired because I won’t get sued if I don’t respond to shots fired.”
As Texas lawmakers increasingly court Arizona-style laws for Texas, our organizing against this destructive and divisive bill must increase and strengthen. The voices of AZ law enforcement must occupy a space at the front of our opposition to SB 1070, right next to our calls for dignity, respect and human rights.