This post will be dedicated to the mainstream media's coverage of tonight's meeting between Chief Baker and the Danbury Alliance.
I was in attendance at tonight's meeting and will post the event in it's entirety later this week.
To start things off, the News-Times came out with a blistering editorial that highlights Mayor Boughton's and the Republican-controlled "racially motivated" Common Council's use of illegal immigration for political purposes.
Danbury Police Chief Al Baker continues to carry the burden of what happened last winter when the Common Council voted to authorize the police department to work with federal immigration agents.
There was no need for a council vote -- since the police work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on a daily basis.
There was no need for the spectacle caused when competing activists converged on Danbury City Hall for the council vote -- which was a vote on nothing.
All these months later, there still is no written agreement between Danbury and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Baker has been regularly meeting with local groups -- some involved in the immigration issue, some not -- to explain the role of the department and what a partnership with ICE would mean.
"I'm always willing to meet with people on issues of concern to the public and the Danbury Police Department," the chief said.
One of those meetings is scheduled for tonight at the Brazilian Catholic Community Center on Liberty Street. It was arranged by the Danbury Alliance and will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Baker is doing a good job cleaning up the mess created by politicians who decided to get involved in what should be a purely law enforcement decision.
The extremes on both sides of the debate envisioned ICE agents sweeping into Danbury neighborhoods for mass roundups of those suspected of being illegal immigrants.
Naturally, there were fears of racial profiling against legal immigrants and citizens.
The lack of a written agreement with ICE points out the needless rush by the council. The city hasn't even been told by ICE whether it will be accepted into the ICE program for local police. The city also has not been told if any Danbury police officers will be offered training spots in ICE programs.
ICE will probably say yes. But just as ICE is taking its time to make decisions, the Danbury Police Department should have been given time to decide how best to approach a partnership with ICE -- without the posturing and interference of the Common Council.
Here's Fox61's report.
After the meeting with Chief Baker, the Danbury Alliance issued the following statement:
Danbury Chief of Police, Alan Baker, at a meeting yesterday with representatives of Latino/Hispanic communities and representatives of the Danbury Alliance, Would not commit to several modifications proposed by the Danbury Alliance to the agreement with ICE pursuant to the authorization given to him by the Danbury Common Council on February 6.
Between 80 and 100 members of the Latino/Hispanic communities and the Danbury Alliance voiced concerns with some of the clauses they say are common to all the existing Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) with ICE but are vague and inconsistent in nature. They sought assurances from the Chief of Police that these clauses would be modified in the agreement which the Chief of Police is expected to sign with ICE.
Chief Alan Baker did not agree to put a specific clause in the MOA that would forbid officers from asking crime victims their immigration status or sharing their status with ICE. In addition, Chief Baker said there would be times that immigration status would be asked and shared with ICE, such as the U Visa program which grants crime victims a temporary visa during the time they cooperate with the prosecution of a criminal.
Chief Baker would not commit to include language in the MOA prohibiting racial profiling. He noted that the police force does not engage in racial profiling yet, several members of the public stated that they had received multiple complaints from persons who said that they had been racially profiled by the Danbury police but were afraid to report it.
The financial costs associated with participation in this program were also addressed by the public however; Chief Alan Baker was unable to provide any details associated with this and stated the city council had not done a cost analysis, to his knowledge, but that it was something that he and the city could do.
Mr. Wilson Hernandez asked Chief Baker if he would limit the number of detectives who receive ICE training to the original number of two detectives he proposed to the common council in January. Chief Baker's response was "I don't want to tie our hands to that number" adding that the number could eventually be increased.
When asked by the public, "what constitutes the definition of a criminal alien" Chief Baker said that there were specific types of criminals they were looking for but could not provide a definition of the term. Chief Baker would not commit to including the definition of criminal alien provided by the Alliance in the wording of the MOA.
Finally, Chief Baker would not agree to allow members of the Alliance to review the final MOA before it is signed.
Despite the reluctance of Chief Baker to commit to the modifications that had been proposed, members of the Alliance issued the following statement: "We consider tonight's event a success in many ways. One of the primary missions of our group is to facilitate dialogue and inform the public. We believe that information is gleaned as much by the question as by their answers. Tonight was a perfect example of that."
Here's a link to the News-Times write-up.