Officers graduate from immigration enforcement program
Six Yavapai County Sheriff's Department detention officers now have the power to enforce federal immigration law.
They recently completed a four-week training academy with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The newly-qualified officers include Marissa Padilla, Keith Chase, Brian Schultz, Alfredo Forbes, Brian Callaghan and Todd Swain.
With the specialized training, the officers may enforce immigration law and identify criminals who are in the country illegally.
"This is a 12-week course at ICE that they compressed to one month," explained Officer Brian Callaghan, one of the graduates.
"We focused on four areas of law: national, criminal, statutory authority and removal. We were taught how to detain someone if he or she is an alien and under what statute they can be removed."
The students watched their 287(g) counterparts at the Maricopa County Jail on Fourth Avenue in Phoenix while they detained and removed illegal immigrants.
"The sheer numbers were overwhelming," Callaghan said. "As soon as 20 went to the bus, another 20 would walk in. They had a steady stream of people."
Callaghan added that ICE agents would be working with the Yavapai County graduates to install computers and databases. The graduates will have access to ICE computer databases and will be able to learn the legal status of any arrestee brought in at either the Camp Verde or Prescott jails.
"My goal was to get these officers trained so we could establish if an individual is illegal or a resident," said Sheriff Steve Waugh. "Then we can issue a detainer and provide it to the court or prosecutor to make a determination of what serves the best interest of the community - deportation or sentencing. Once we determine their legal status, we can hold them instead of releasing them on bail and can keep them until the prosecutor determines the legal charge or turn them over to ICE for transport to the border."
Waugh stressed that out of 40,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, only 48 have this ICE training.
"We're the only law enforcement agency in Yavapai County to be authorized to enforce immigration law," he said.
Officers from Arizona law enforcement agencies comprise one-third of the total law enforcement officers throughout the United States who participate in the program.
Waugh plans to send four field deputies from the patrol division as soon as additional program openings become available.
"I pick the officers who attend based on interest and appropriateness," he said.
Part of the more than 30 personnel graduating from the program included officers from the Department of Public Safety, and deputies from both the Pima and Pinal Sheriff's Office.
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