Top Cop sympathizes with Immigrants

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

The fear of crime cripples communities, forces people behind locked doors and cultivates an atmosphere of mistrust, Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine says. The fear of reporting crime paralyzes another group. Undocumented immigrants who live, work, worship, raise families and pay taxes in the city sometimes avoid calling the police because they believe doing so would constitute trouble — mainly deportation. As the chief spoke at a local church, audience members — packed into pews, leaning over the balcony and standing at the back of the room — were silent. How will the police handle a situation in which an undocumented person with a valid driver’s license is stopped for a traffic violation? Will this person be reported to Immigration? “If a person is stopped by the police and they have no license, they are subject to arrest and subject to be charged — anybody,” Racine answered. “There is no mechanism to determine if they are documented, undocumented or on the way. That’s anybody. Me, too.” Nervous laughter rippled through the crowd. Then Racine noted that a valid passport is an “acceptable and sufficient” form of ID during the course of an investigation. The chief pledged to meet with church leaders in an effort to build more trust and respect with the immigrant community. Racine said his in-laws moved to America from Brazil for a better life. He said he understands the immigrants are trying to make better lives for their families as well. “Whatever the police department can do to make a better quality of life, we will. For those committing crimes, it’s different. They go somewhere else. We believe in your community … and I do, personally.” Mayor Will Flanagan joined the police chief, vowing to support Racine’s commitments and do his part to strengthen the relationship between his administration and residents. The meeting was over in about an hour. When people were asked if they ever have hesitated to contact the police after witnessing or being the victim of a crime, more than 30 hands shot into the air. The number slowly climbed. Cintia Tejada told the story of an undocumented friend who found a baby crying in a locked car in the Walmart parking lot. She asked someone else to call the police, but feared she would be asked to testify in court because she was a witness. (southcoast mass.) see


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