Local law enforcement agencies rely on community trust to do their jobs effectively. This cooperation is critical to the successful identification and prosecution of dangerous criminals. But people are less likely to go to the police when they are afraid that they or their family member could end up being deported. Lack of appropriate language services creates another barrier. Ensuring the safety of all Pennsylvanians requires that all communities are able to seek out police assistance and report crime.
Our Public Safety committee works to overcome langauge barriers and address community fears so that immigrant victims of domestic violence will be more likely to call for help when they are in danger, and witnesses can come forward and report suspicious activity. We also work to address different formal and informal ways that law enforcement is checking immigration status and turning people over to immigration authorities - actions that impose serious costs to our finances, community policing, and overall safety due to the chilling effect on crime reporting.
Examples of Success include:
• Executive Order 8-09 on immigration status was issued in Philadelphia by Mayor Nutter in November of 2009, prohibiting city officers and employees from asking about immigration status, or disclosing status information, with certain exceptions. Law enforcement is prohibited from stopping, questioning, arresting, or detaining someone solely because of ethnicity, national origin, or perceived immigration status and protections are outlined for victims, witnesses or others who week police assistance.
• Philadelphia Police Department Directive 71 on language services was issued in December 2005 after 2 ½ years of work with the Office of Civil Rights, Department of Justice and the Philadelphia Police Department. All officers were trained in 2006 and new recruites are trained in the academy.
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