The Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia announced Tuesday that one of their officers was suspended for turning an illegal alien over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after determining the individual had dodged a deportation hearing.
The FCPD didn’t identify the officer in a statement released Tuesday but said the incident occurred on Sept. 21 when an officer was dispatched to a car accident.
The officer discovered one of the drivers didn’t have a Virginia driver’s license and ran a check with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, police said. The check revealed the driver had a violation for failing to appear for a deportation hearing.
Chief Roessler said he “deprived a person of their freedom” by cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The chief called that unacceptable.
“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE,” he said in a statement. “This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents.”
He said that move broke department policy, which tells officers not to bother to confirm administrative warrants through the county’s system. The majority of administrative warrants are from ICE.
“The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation,” the chief said.
Luis Aguilar, director of CASA Virginia, a leading advocacy group for immigrants, said Chief Roessler’s decision to suspend an officer was bold — and correct.
“We think it’s a very appropriate action,” Mr. Aguilar told The Washington Times. “This is local law enforcement, this is the local police department, and they cannot be enforcing federal immigration laws. … This is a clear message of where and how the chief of police thinks.”
ICE did not respond to a request for comment, but the agency’s acting director last week used a press conference at the White House to complain about communities that refused to cooperate with his deportation officers.