Port Arthur police policy already follows mayor’s philosophy on immigration
Regardless of the mayor’s remarks on Thursday, the work of Port Arthur police officers remains unchanged.
This is because in January Chief Patrick Melvin drafted a policy relating to immigration that is wholly in line with Mayor Derrick Freeman’s philosophy.
On Thursday, the mayor took to Facebook to express a desire to make sure local Hispanic families do not feel targeted by the police and he said he did not want the police to go after undocumented residents simply because they are undocumented.
As it turned out, the police did not do these things and they will not do these things.
LaRisa Carpenter, the city’s public information officer, explained that the new formal policy has been informal policy for years, and Chief Melvin did not draft the January policy with Freeman. The similarity seems to be coincidence.
The policy, dated Jan. 26, states, in part:
It is our philosophy of the Port Arthur Police Department to treat everyone in our community in a just manner. We do not enforce immigration laws other than when it relates directly to violent crime including human smuggling and drug trafficking. As our involvement with these types of issues increases, employees are reminded treat everyone with dignity and respect. Officers will not stop persons for the sole purpose of determining immigration status. Officers will not arrest a person when the only violation is an infraction of federal immigration law. Officers will not contact ICE/Border Patrol for the sole purpose of interpreting. Officers will not notify ICE/Border Patrol of undocumented person under the following conditions:
When the contacted person is a victim and/or witness of a crime.
When contacted during a family disturbance.
The enforcement of minor traffic offenses.
When the person(s) is/are seeking medical treatment.
If an undocumented person is arrested, the decision to notify ICE will be based on the following criteria:
If the offense is a minor traffic violation, ICE will not be notified. (Felony DUI offenders will be turned over to ICE when feasible.)
ICE will not be notified by the Port Arthur Police Department if the person is released.
If the person will be released from police custody (not booked) pending further investigation, ICE will not be notified.
The CID will be the department’s liaison with ICE and make contact with them in reference to Drop Houses, Load Vehicles, Drug House and other crimes.
I support the men and women of our organization and trust that each of you will continue to conduct yourselves professionally, reflecting the positive image this agency has come to represent both within our community, county, state and eventually throughout the country.