Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck joined top cops from around the nation in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to decry Arizona's controversial immigration law as a hindrance to law enforcement. Beck aired his opionion to Attorney General Eric Holder, who is still considering whether to challenge Arizona's legislation.
If law officers are pushed to question suspects about their immigration status, as is the case in Arizona, "we will be unable to do our jobs,'' Beck said, according to Associated Press. "Laws like this will actually increase crime, not decrease crime.''
Holder is reported to be moving quickly toward a decision about whether or not to challenge the state's law, which encourages police to check the immigration status of those suspects they pick up and think might be here illegally.
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Beck argues in favor of the city's own rule prohibiting Los Angeles police from asking about immigration status. Backers of Special Order 40 say that it allows officers to build rapport in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods. People who fear deportation would be less likely to call or cooperate with police, according to Beck and others. Furthermore, many of L.A.'s immigrant communities are filled with people who feared police in their home countries.
The Los Angeles Police Protective Leaque, the union that represents L.A. police, might be at odds with Beck on this one: The group recently expressed some understanding for Arizona's legal stance on immigration, arguing that it simply reflects federal law and gives cops "investigative discretion."
Interestingly, California law, much like Arizona's, asks police to check the immigration status of arrestees.
Other chiefs meeting holder included those from Philadelphia, Houston, Minneapolis, San Jose, Salt Lake City and Montgomery County, Md.