The Winston-Salem Police Department's primary job is protecting residents and arresting criminals — not enforcing federal-immigration laws, Police Chief Scott Cunningham [Email him] told a mostly Hispanic audience last night.An editorial in the same paper more or less agrees with him, but begs him to at least deport the criminals. But the editors endorse the idea that an American chief of police has a responsibility to protect the illegal aliens in his town:
"The police department is interested in the safety of everyone," Cunningham said. "How you got here is not our primary concern. You are here, and we want to protect you."
Cunningham spoke to more than 120 people gathered at the Iglesia Bautista Cristo Vive on East Sprague Street. Cunningham, who became police chief June 30, took questions from the audience that included Hispanics, blacks and whites.
Cunningham's appearance was sponsored by the Waughtown Business Association. After he briefly greeted the audience in Spanish, Cunningham spoke in English. Two interpreters translated his comments in Spanish for Hispanic audience members.
Cunningham said that the police department is not participating in the 287(g) program of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Under the program, local law-enforcement agencies work with the federal authorities to enforce immigration laws.
Eight law-enforcement agencies in North Carolina participate in the program. The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office has applied to participate in the program that checks the immigration status of people detained in local jails.
Cunningham said that gang members and criminals should worry about their immigration status after they are arrested. But the police want to protect law-abiding residents who want to work and raise their families. About 35,000 Hispanics live in Forsyth.
"If someone tells you that you can't call the police because you will be deported, that is not true," Cunningham said. "We want you to trust us."
[Police chief tries to build trust among Hispanics | Officers' focus is protecting residents from crime, not immigration enforcement, he says, By John Hinton, Winston-Salem Journal, September 25, 2008]
They should be. But they should know that their problem is with federal officials, not the local police. The local department has neither the mandate nor the manpower to round up all the illegal immigrants who live within Hispanic neighborhoods in Winston-Salem. Roundups aren't its duty. But protecting all residents, including Hispanic ones, is.But both stories talk repeatedly about gaining the trust of "Hispanics." They don't want to gain the trust of Hispanics—they want to gain the trust of illegals.
And the department can't do that without cooperation from Hispanics. It needs their trust and cooperation in solving such crimes as burglaries and murders, both in Hispanic neighborhoods and in the city at large. Cunningham has started on the hard path toward building that trust.[Hispanics And Police, September 28, 2008]