Police in limbo after money, time spent on SB 1070 enforcement training - East Valley Tribune: Immigration

SB 1070: A Year Later Police in limbo after money, time spent on SB 1070 enforcement training

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Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 1:30 am | Updated: 4:55 pm, Fri Apr 22, 2011.

Law enforcement officers are ready to enforce SB 1070 — if they have to enforce it at all.

After thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on training materials for officers and hundreds of hours went toward enforcement training,

agencies now are waiting for the courts to decide whether the law is constitutional.

After Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the controversial immigration bill into law, a year ago Saturday, she ordered the Arizona Peace Officers Standard and Training Board to create a training program and guidelines for enforcing it. AZPOST had its work finished by the May 21 deadline, but later shut down the process as the law was fine-tuned.

And although individual police departments throughout the state, including those in the East Valley, spent more than AZPOST did to train officers, the board’s executive director said he believes the training was done efficiently and prepared officers to effectively enforce the law.

AZPOST spent slightly more than $26,000 to implement enforcement training for the law — or $3.75 per officer, Lyle Mann said.

“We did what we were tasked to do, and I believe we did it well,” he said. “When the court makes its decision, we’ll ensure that the officers are prepared to do what they’re supposed to do or allowed to do.

“The bottom line of what we did was a pretty good return for our investment in the costs of implementing the training.”

While AZPost implemented a training program for law enforcement agencies throughout the state and was due to submit recommendations on how to improve the law or more effectively enforce it to Brewer by July 29 of last year, those recommendations never came. But Mann said the role of AZPOST is over.

On July 31, the day the law was set to go into effect, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton struck down several key provisions, saying most of it was unconstitutional. A higher court will now rule on whether the law will stand.

Brewer has vowed to take the issue as far as the U.S. Supreme Court.

AZPOST’s work, however, is done.

“After the judge (Bolton) came down with her ruling, there was no need for it, so we just shut the process down,” Mann added. “With the exception of the parts of the law that went into effect (stopping in the roadway targeted at day laborers disrupting traffic), our purpose was done.”

None of the police departments throughout the East Valley — Mesa, Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert — has reported arresting day laborers for disrupting traffic. But those departments have completed SB 1070 enforcement training for their officers and would be prepared to enforce the law, according to information from those cities.

One of the sticking points in enforcing SB 1070 involved reasonable suspicion in seeking a suspect’s citizenship status. Opponents believed this would lead to racial profiling, Mann said.

“We believe that we had a pretty strong argument in place and would have been able to effectively articulate any arguments against racial profiling,” he said.

Up until Bolton placed an injunction on SB 1070, AZPOST spent $26,439 for training and materials that included $4,153.95 for immigration guides from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $3,000 in legal fees and $2,816 in overtime costs for staff, according to information from AZPOST.

In other agencies:

• All of Chandler’s 317 sworn officers and other department personnel went through 1,169 hours of training at a cost of $50,921 to the department, including $16,222 of overtime, according to information from Chandler.

• Gilbert trained all 222 of its sworn officers to enforce SB 1070 and will have ongoing training for new hires, according to Sgt. William Balafas, a Gilbert police spokesman.

• Tempe had 16 training sessions that lasted two to three hours per class. Overall, about 418 Tempe police employees attended the training sessions, including all 340 sworn officers, according to Sgt. Steve Carbajal, a Tempe police spokesman.

• An estimated 1,000 sworn officers, including detectives, were trained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, according to DPS spokesman Bart Graves.

“If you think of all the fervor that was out there with SB 1070 a year ago and look at it now, you kind of think, ‘Huh,?’ ” Mann said. “Everything has moved on. Until the court does something, it’s all hypothetical.”

But while the process of training officers to enforce SB 1070 seems like ancient history, it’s still fresh in their minds.

“There’s been a year since it’s passage, so whatever is done from here on out, would have to be assessed with the passage of time.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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