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Decatur police update 'Immigration Procedures' policy after receiving blowback from mayor

A Decatur police rule approved by Chief Nate Allen received blowback from Mayor Bowling.

Posted: Oct 1, 2019 3:21 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2019 6:56 PM

The Decatur Police Department, in conjunction with Mayor Tab Bowling's Office and the city's legal department, has updated its “Immigration Procedures” policy.

On Monday, a Decatur police rule approved by Chief Nate Allen received blowback from Mayor Bowling. At issue was a police department policy approved by Allen on Sept. 25th. Read that story here.

WAAY 31 spoke with some people who live in Decatur who have mixed feelings on Mayor Bowling's initial reaction to his Facebook post.

Suzanne Johnson attended Monday night's Decatur City Council meeting to call for Mayor Bowling to resign. She says the mayor shouldn't be posting issues within the city government on social media.

"I just feel like he took the Chief of Police, the highest ranking police officer in Decatur, and threw him in front of the Facebook bus," she said. "We're not a sanctuary city. Nobody has said we're going to be a sanctuary city, and I think that he's running for mayor again. He took an opportunity and threw this out on Facebook hoping it would get him votes."

Another resident from Decatur said she thinks what the mayor did was right.

Bonnie Goodman has lived in Decatur for years. She said she's always been a supporter of the mayor and will continue to support him, but she fears the memo the chief of police issued last Wednesday is trying to make Decatur a sanctuary city.

"He does not put bad things on his Facebook posts. He keeps everybody informed of what's going on in the community and if they don't want to read his posts, then I suggest they 'un-friend' him," Goodman said. "I do not want the city of Decatur to turn out like San Francisco, being a sanctuary city. It brings in a lot of crimes and some people I'm not comfortable with."

When making his original memo, Police Chief Nate Allen said it was carefully vetted through a police accreditation commission. He said in the statement he released on Monday afternoon, all policy and procedures are carefully written under the strict guidelines of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA.

That's the agency the Decatur Police Department is working with to gain department accreditation.

WAAY 31 reached out to CALEA on Tuesday, and a regional program manager said the commission has no specific standard for immigration enforcement, because the rules vary from state to state.

For example, in Alabama, the Department of Public Safety and State Troopers will assist ICE whenever called upon.

The Huntsville Police Department is accredited by CALEA. A lieutenant tells WAAY 31 if Huntsville police serve a warrant on someone who is undocumented, officers will contact federal agencies.

"We do at times cooperate with all federal authorities especially ice when there's a secondary crime involved," said Lieutenant Michael Johnson with Huntsville police.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Decatur Police Chief said officers will continue to treat all people equally and fairly, regardless of circumstances.

A Decatur City Council member told WAAY 31 if illegal immigrants are scared of deportation, they'll be scared to report crimes.

We reached out to the mayor and chief to talk about these latest developments and are waiting to hear back.

The Decatur Police Department released this statement on Tuesday:

The Decatur Police Department has worked in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office and the Legal Department to update our “Immigration Procedures” policy.

The policy as it stands, through this collaborative effort, best serves our city and those who protect it.

As we will always reiterate, our duty as a police department is to treat all individuals equally and fairly – regardless of circumstance.

The Decatur Police Department is enriched by the diversity of its staff and is honored to protect a community made whole by its inclusiveness.

“Even in its original format, our policies and procedures have never mentioned, alluded to, or encouraged an environment conducive to a ‘sanctuary city.’ Our relentless mission is to serve the people of Decatur. Our policies reflect industry best practices and enable us to do our job to the best of our ability as a department,” says Police Chief Nate Allen.

426.0 Immigration Procedures Final by Ashley Thusius on Scribd

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