Gascon speaks out against Arpaio crime sweeps - East Valley Tribune: News

Gascon speaks out against Arpaio crime sweeps

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Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 11:08 pm | Updated: 10:17 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Police Chief George Gascón has safely handled demonstrators 500,000-strong during his years working for the Los Angeles Police Department, but with Mesa’s limited resources Gascón is hoping that he can maintain the peace, if and when Sheriff Joe Arpaio brings his illegal immigrant roundups into the city.

VIDEO: Watch Tribune reporter Nicole Beyer's report

Police Chief George Gascón has safely handled demonstrators 500,000-strong during his years working for the Los Angeles Police Department, but with Mesa’s limited resources Gascón is hoping that he can maintain the peace, if and when Sheriff Joe Arpaio brings his illegal immigrant roundups into the city.

VIDEO: Watch Tribune reporter Nicole Beyer's report

Mesa immigration protest prompts police memo

Gascón spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday at a press conference about the possibility of Arpaio’s sweeps moving into Mesa. The police chief said he is worried he may have to pay officers overtime, and is concerned with the possibility of racial profiling and civil disturbances occurring in his jurisdiction.

Gascón cited a “growing concern that people are being stopped because of the way they look,” and said he is fearful that this type of police behavior could continue into the future.

“I’m extremely concerned if we create generations of police officers who don’t understand the 14th Amendment,” Gascón said from a podium inside the police department.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires, among other things, that states provide everyone with equal protection under the law.

Gascón said he has seen incidents, including one in his city, where people were held for hours because they were believed to be in the country illegally, when in fact, they were not. And the chief said his department has found that illegal immigrants aren’t even the people committing most of the crimes.

A two-year study conducted by Mesa police showed that the ethnic groups who commit crimes in Mesa tend to be proportionate to the number of members of that group who reside in the city. Also, the study found that illegal immigrants are not committing crimes at a disproportionate rate.

In fact, in 2007 crime reached the lowest point the city has seen in ten years, despite the fact that the illegal immigrant population has risen. He called this a “phenomenon” that hasn’t yet been explained, but asked the question that if illegal immigrants are bringing crime into the area, then why has crime not risen?

“There are some academics that would argue that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes,” Gascón said.

He said that in many cases illegal immigrants are fearful they’ll be deported if they break the law and added that even most gangs contain legal residents. “There is so much misinformation out there,” Gascón said. “The gang problem in Arizona is not driven by illegal immigrants...the gang problems in this country are home grown. They are social and economic problems in our inner cities.”

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