SEATTLE, Wa. – A valuable database service that allows police agencies to clearly communicate and work together has been discontinued in Seattle over leader concerns that the information might be shared with immigration officials.
And they got rid of it without telling anyone.
KIRO reported that participating law enforcement agencies share a database called LInX (Legal Information Network Exchange).
It provides information such as suspects’ addresses outside of the county, suspects’ associates, suspects’ contacts with other law enforcement agencies, and an idea of the danger level of suspects. The database can be additionally used to help find victims of crimes as well as return stolen property.
In essence, it’s an important piece of the toolkit that officers depend on.
But now, in what some are calling a slap in the face to law enforcement and an endangerment to citizens, the department has completely pulled the plug on the database.
But here’s the kicker — they don’t even list immigration status within the database.
Undersheriff Scott Somers issued a statement to the public after it was discovered that the service was no longer accessible to members of Seattle law enforcement.
“I would like to apologize for not communicating the termination of our agreement with Northwest LinX internally, before it was terminated yesterday, and why terminating the agreement became necessary … We acknowledge and understand the impact to many of you who use this resource as part of your work on a daily basis.”
Did you notice how he acknowledged that this is going to be a major impact on those using this tool on a daily basis? It gets worse.
“I know that this is going to impact our ability to efficiently access information for conducting investigations and support other functions.”
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“We worked with LinX and the Western Washington Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge to try to develop firewalls between criminal and civil immigration functions within ICE. We could not reach a solution that insured that the civil immigration functions would not have access, especially when viewed from a national level. We had no alternative other than to terminate our membership and information sharing with LinX. This included the removal of all of our information from their system.”
So even though they know the tool is valuable in order for police to efficiently do their jobs, and they know that immigration status is not even a category within the database, these administrators found the best solution to be a discontinuation of the service.
From an outside perspective, it essentially looks like these leaders value their political agenda more than their own citizens. Without this database, crimes will go unsolved, victims will remain undiscovered, and police will be forced to live with those consequences.
Across the country, communities are being impacted because of the decisions of state leaders to decide which federal laws they follow and which they don’t. Now, a state attorney general is facing a federal lawsuit over his rules blocking police from doing their jobs.
It’s called Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, more commonly referred to as the “Immigrant Trust Directive”, and it bars local law enforcement agencies from working with federal immigration officials.
And now the New Jersey Attorney General who issued that directive is about to be sued because of it.
Last Wednesday, Ocean County General Counsel John C. Sahradnik was authorized to file a federal lawsuit against state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal for his directive that prevented local authorities from assisting ICE.
The action comes after employees from Ocean County Jail felt that they were ‘legally obligated’ to prevent ICE officials from accessing a computer database to look for inmates who may also be in violation of federal immigration law.
A spokesman for the AG’s office said that the lawsuit won’t hold any weight.
He said that the New Jersey Criminal Justice Act of 1970 gives the state attorney general a greater amount of discretion. The statute grants the authority to the attorney general to establish statewide law enforcement policies, including policies that promote the public trust in police, and encourage victims and witnesses to cooperate with law enforcement.
AG Grewal previously said that working with federal officials in this capacity would “essentially deputize our state’s police officers to act like ICE agents.” Grewal says that the measure was supposed to build trust between the immigrant communities and law enforcement for reporting and helping with criminal investigations. He says cooperation with ICE can only continue if he decides it serves “a valid law enforcement purpose.”
“Officials and residents may not instruct their law enforcement officers to ignore a law enforcement directive,” Grewal said following complaints about the measure.
“The attorney general’s authority — which has been used by prior attorney generals across administrations — extends to all 36,000 law enforcement officers in New Jersey, whether they work at New Jersey State Police, a local police department or a county sheriff’s office,” the AG’s spokesman said.
Grewal’s directive went into effect in March of 2019. NJ.com reported that at the time, sheriff’s offices in three New Jersey counties — Cape May, Monmouth and Salem — still had existing agreements with ICE under a program dubbed “287g,” which allows state and local law enforcement to “act as a force multiplier” for ICE. Several counties had earlier done away with the agreements, which in New Jersey mainly applied to officers in county jails.
21 states take part in the 287g program. Officials say it “allows ICE to actively engage criminal alien offenders while incarcerated in a secure and controlled environment.”
AG Grewal recently went after two sheriff’s offices for “failing to inform the state’s attorney general that they are helping federal immigration authorities capture and deport undocumented migrants.”
So because law enforcement officers in New Jersey are doing their jobs by working with federal ICE agents to help arrest and deport people who are actively breaking the law, the attorney general, who is supposed to work to uphold the Constitution… threatened them.
We’re a nation of laws. We don’t get to pick and choose which ones we break and which we uphold.