GENESEO – The Geneseo Police Department’s procedure for identifying drivers with no or potentially fraudulent forms of identification is now in effect.
Under this policy, officers will not contact border patrol if there is a suspicion that a person has stayed in the country longer than they should. However, if there is ‘reasonable suspicion or probable cause that the subject entered the country unlawfully,’ officers can detain a person and contact the GPD sergeant or chief to decide whether or not to call border patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mayor Richard Hatheway said that the Geneseo Village Board reviewed the policy proposed by Police Chief Eric Osganian, available here. The mayor said that after a few questions on the record at Monday night’s Village Board meeting, the board was satisfied with the policy.
The Board did not formally vote on the policy. Hatheways said that it is an internal policy and that the Board ‘has not been involved in any other of the +/- 150 police procedural policies on the books.’
The policy opens with the following statement:
Effective law enforcement must be void of any bias based on age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, domestic violence victim status, gender identification or expression, ethnic and/or economic status or the fact that the person speaks a foreign language. Such bias is illegal and inconsistent with democratic ideals values and principles of American policing and is not in any way a legitimate or defensible public protection strategy. Furthermore, it is in direct conflict with the mission and values of the Geneseo Police Department (GPD).
It is the policy of the GPD that officers will not make referrals to federal authorities in cases where they develop information of suspected civil immigration violations unless there is a reason to suspect violations of criminal law. Officers will not contact federal authorities in order to facilitate a language interpreter when there is not a reason to suspect a criminal violation. Instead, officers in need of an interpreter will either contact the 911 Center (Policy O98) and request the use of an interpreter or use a list of interpreters provided by the Chief of Police.
The policy goes on to articulate the distinction between civil and criminal violations of immigration law, as per federal definitions. Specifically, the policy says that an ‘illegal alien’ enters the country legally and stays longer than they should, which constitutes a civil violation of immigration law, and that an ‘unlawful entrant’ enters the country illegally or fraudulently, which constitutes a criminal violation of immigration law.
The Police Department took intense heat from protesters at the scene of a traffic stop on March 24, 2017 and in the following days. Outspoken critics, including Village Trustee Mary Rutigliano, said that the officer should not have called the Border Patrol to verify the authenticity of an unstamped Guatemalan passport, which led to Border Patrol agents detaining two women.
Osganian said that if this policy were in effect on March 24, the sergeant or himself would have been contacted and the women might still have ultimately been detained.
“The issue was the passport being suspect,” said Osganian. “I think the supervisor being involved will help. It’s then possible that the passport would be taken as I.D. and then we would deal with safety seats and the lack of a driver’s license. But if it’s agreed that the passport is suspect and we can’t confirm that it’s a valid I.D., then border patrol may eventually be contacted for I.D.”