Scottsdale police have begun to ask all suspects they arrest whether they are citizens, holding those who are in the country illegally for federal immigration officials.
The new effort is a result of the September shooting death of Phoenix police officer Nick Erfle, who was killed by an illegal immigrant, Erik Jovani Martinez.
Martinez was killed soon after by police after he stole a car and took a hostage.
Martinez had been released by Scottsdale police in May 2006 on a minor charge because they did not know that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, had deported him twice before.
“That caused us to look at what we were asking suspects,” Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said.
“If we arrest someone and then find that we called ICE and they put a hold on them, then we know they have been deported and are back again.”
Every person Scottsdale police arrest is asked when they are booked whether they were born in the United States or another country, Clark said. If the suspect answers they are foreign-born, they are asked whether they are in the country legally.
If the booking officer believes the suspect is in the country illegally — either based on the answer to the officer’s questions or other evidence — the officer will call ICE, Clark said.
ICE will then tell Scottsdale police whether to hold them, Clark said. That call to ICE gets logged in the police’s system.
That way, if the same person is arrested by Scottsdale police again a few years later, they’ll have a record of whether ICE put a hold on that suspect, he said.