Dayton police revise immigration status policy

The Dayton Police Department has rescinded a policy that in general prohibited officers from contacting federal immigration authorities in cases involving misdemeanor violations and felony-level property crimes .

According to a Jan. 25 executive order obtained by this news organization, Dayton police have eliminated a section of the department’s general order about when to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency in charge of investigating and enforcing federal immigration law.

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The rescinded policy said ICE will not be contacted for assistance in investigations of felony property crimes or misdemeanor crimes of violence without approval of a division commander.

The policy also said ICE will not be contacted for assistance in investigations of misdemeanor property crimes or traffic offenses.

Earlier this month, Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl characterized the policy change as minor and simply intended to ensure compliance with federal law.

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President Trump recently issued three executive orders focused on curbing illegal immigration and suspending refugee admissions, as well as punishing cities that willingly refuse to cooperate with federal authorities to enforce immigration law.

Biehl emphasized that being in the country illegally is a civil violation that is exclusively the jurisdiction of federal authorities.

“Our policy is very clear that … we will not stop, we will not detain, we will not interview people merely to investigate your immigration status,” he said.

Biehl said his department does not have the legal authority to enforce federal immigration law and officers have worked for years to build a good relationship with the immigrant and foreign-born communities.

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