Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Après SO 40, Le Deluge

Los Angeles, CA

Special Order 40 was a policy put in about 30 years ago by then-police chief Darryl Gates that prevents the LAPD from ascertaining the immigration status of arrestees. The rationale for this was to create a level of trust between the LAPD and the immigration population who are preyed upon the most. It's a common problem for crimes in immigrant communities to go unreported because the residents simply don't trust the police.

For good or ill, depending on where you stand in the whole immigration debate, SO 40 has been adopted by police agencies across the nation and has managed to endure for decades.

Last year, the Orange County Sheriff's Department enacted a different policy, allowing its deputies to be trained in immigration law and issues and begin operations to assist in arrests for immigration violations. The LAPD and the LASD haven't been too keen on this, feeling that SO 40 has helped them prevent more crimes, reduce load on its staff and already overcrowded jail system, and generally allow them to do their job, not the Federal government's.

With immigration issues gaining more visibility, the LAPD is already getting ready to deal with one challenge on SO 40. Now they've got another.
The suit, which is endorsed by the Federal Immigration Reform Enforcement Coalition and is scheduled to be filed as early as today, cites an obscure state code that appears to require local police to report to federal authorities the names of any illegal immigrant arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking or possession.
Looked at one way, revoking SO 40 could be a good thing. It's clear that illegal immigration is a problem. Aside from being against the law, it's not like criminals coming into the country are going to walk in on an H1B visa. The lack of effective immigration enforcement has turned into a revolving door for deported criminals and gang members. The infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) is noted for having their members sent back to El Salvador only to sneak back across the border in record numbers, spreading the gang across the nation. If the LAPD is required to inquire as to an arrestee's immigration status, they're far more likely to get people out of the city.

And on the other hand this could be a disastrous thing. The LAPD's stretched thinner than a Trojan on John Holmes' distended cock. Our jails are so overcrowded, repeat offenders are getting early release just to make room.

Where will people be detained as they're waiting for deportation hearings? The Terminal Island Federal Correctional Facility that deportees are held in can't hold that many people. Stick 'em in Pitchess? Considering the recent race riots between blacks and Latinos we've had there and in other county facilities you might as well wall the whole thing off and turn it into one giant cage match.

I'm not necessarily for or against SO 40. But I think that revoking it without having some things in place, like enough police, enough money, a viable plan for housing deportees, an actual Federal immigration policy, is a disaster waiting to happen. Just pulling the plug while the LAPD is still digging itself out from under the weight of Federal oversight left over from all that Rampart crap is going to put a strain on them they're not going to be able to handle.


pattinase (abbott) said...

God, you are knowledgeable! YOu need to write a nonfiction book about LA crime.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Thanks, Patti, but I just dig up the odd tidbit. There's all sorts of things in this town I know bupkes about.

It's probably better that way.