A police officer in Fairfax, Virginia has been suspended after he turned a driver over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement while investigating a car accident. He was found to be in violation of the department's policy against cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The officer, who has not been identified, responded to a scene of the crash and discovered one of the drivers did not have a Virginia driver's license.
The officer ran a check on the driver with the Department of Motor Vehicles and discovered that ICE had issued an administrative violation against the person after they failed to attend their deportation hearing. After verifying the warrant, he contacted the ICE agent listed on the warrant. The officer issued the driver a ticket for driving without a license, but instead of letting him go, the officer held him until the ICE agent arrived to take him into federal custody.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler apologized for the incident and explained that the officer should have never contacted the ICE agent.
"This is an unfortunate issue where the officer was confused," Roessler said. "We have trained on this issue a lot. This is the first time we've had a lapse in judgment, and the officer is being punished."
Fairfax County has had a policy in place since 2007 that bars officers from confirming an individual's immigration status or taking them into custody for violating immigration laws.
Roessler said the policy is in place to ensure that minorities feel safe to speak with officers and are not afraid they will be deported.
"Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation, and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE. This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents."
The driver was released by ICE a few hours later and was issued an ankle monitor.
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