Arizona board begins work on training for officers

Agency plans a video course to teach police how to enforce the immigration law without racial profiling


Jonathan J. Cooper
May 19, 2010 12:17PM (UTC)

A state board has begun work on a program to train Arizona police officers to avoid racial profiling while enforcing the state's tough new crackdown on illegal immigration.

The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt a framework for developing the training materials.

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The video training course will be distributed to all 15,000 Arizona police officers. It will emphasize the importance of protecting civil rights.

Arizona's law has come under fire by civil rights groups and some police officials who argue that it invites racial profiling of Hispanics.

Gov. Jan Brewer ordered the agency to create a training course when she signed the law April 23.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

PHOENIX (AP) -- A state board begins work Wednesday on a program to train Arizona police officers to avoid racial profiling while enforcing the state's tough new crackdown on illegal immigration.

The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board is expected to vote on a framework for developing the training materials.

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Gov. Jan Brewer ordered the agency to create a training course when she signed Arizona's illegal immigration law April 23.

The measure requires police enforcing another law to verify a person's immigration status if there's "reasonable suspicion" they are in the U.S. illegally. It also makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

It has come under fire by civil rights groups and some police officials who argue that it invites racial profiling of Hispanics.

The law restricts the use of race, color or national origin as the basis for triggering immigration questions. But critics worry officers will still be influenced by their preconceived ideas that illegal immigrants look Hispanic.

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"The way the law is written, it almost leads officers to do racial profiling, while at the same time saying, 'Don't do it,'" Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris told The Associated Press last week.

Two police officers, one each from Phoenix and Tucson, have filed lawsuits asking judges to overturn Arizona's law. They argue in part that the law can't be enforced without profiling.

Gov. Jan Brewer has defended the measure, saying profiling is illegal and won't be tolerated.

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Supporters say there are plenty of factors aside from race that can indicate someone is in the country illegally. They say an officer would have reasonable suspicion if he encounters a driver without identification who gives conflicting information while traveling through a known smuggling corridor.

Arizona's law was passed in part with the lobbying muscle of unions representing rank-and-file police officers who argued that they should be allowed to arrest illegal immigrants they encounter.

It was opposed by police bosses who worried it would be expensive to implement and would destroy the trust they've developed in Hispanic neighborhoods.

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The law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by the pending court challenges.


Jonathan J. Cooper

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