The Washington Post

Of all the notable details in Montgomery County’s latest murder trial — a telltale sandwich left in a Chevy Chase refrigerator, a smoldering body 18 miles away, a delusional suspect who claimed that the slain man’s watch was about to explode — perhaps nothing stands out more than this: Detectives might not have cracked the case without the help of an immigrant day laborer they know only as Sam.

The case illustrates precisely the type of cooperation that might be diminished if police are asked to step up enforcement of immigration laws, some law enforcement officials said. The trial ended this month with the conviction of a Honduran immigrant in the slaying of a carpenter who had hired him.

“Without the cooperation of that day laborer, that murder goes unsolved,” Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “It’s that pure and simple.”

Many officials say that if police increase enforcement of immigration laws, it will boost public safety overall. But law enforcement leaders in Montgomery and parts of Northern Virginia aren’t so sure, fearing that it might intimidate witnesses and victims. The departments are attempting to assure immigrants that cooperating with police will not lead to deportation.

A recent public-service announcement on cable television in Montgomery featured Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and Jaime Moreno, a native of Bolivia who plays for Washington’s professional soccer team, D.C. United.

“Don’t be afraid to call police!” they say in unison.

In Prince William County, an ordinance that took effect last month requires police to check the residency status of crime suspects, even those detained for traffic offenses, if officers think they might be in the country illegally.

Anecdotally, the policy appears to be making police work more challenging, said 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, a county police spokeswoman. Several days ago, she said, officers had trouble identifying a body found in the woods because the dead man’s family would not cooperate, Chinn said.

Police Chief Charlie T. Deane, who last year warned that such a policy could have “a potential chilling effect,” has been speaking to community groups and through Spanish-language media, telling them that victims and witnesses will be protected regardless of their status.

Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Board of County Supervisors and a leading proponent of increasing police enforcement of immigration laws, acknowledged that some witnesses or victims might be hesitant to cooperate.

“It’s complicated and difficult,” he said, “but the benefits to public safety far outweigh the drawbacks. . . . Not all illegal immigrants come here just to work.”

6 Responses to “Montgomery County, MD Police Worry Immigrants’ Help in Cases Will Dry Up”
  1. Eddie B. says:

    “benefits to public safety far outweigh the drawbacks. . . . Not all illegal immigrants come here just to work.?

    Wow….. now this one is a new one. Yeah, a new low even for the Washington Post. We need the illagels becuase they make good informants/rats…


  2. Johnny says:

    illegal immigrants are always going to avoid the police like a bad case of clap regardless of what the city’s sanctuary policies are. The whole sanctuary thing is a joke, it does nothing to help the police out in any situation.

  3. Johnny says:

    The illegals are smart enough to know that the police are not going to do anything to them anyways and in most cases illegal immigrants will cooperate with police if put on the spot. I guarantee if a border patrol agent pulled up and got out to ask a few questions these illegals would high tail it! They know most police officers don’t deal with immigration.

  4. Faye says:

    I’ve got a rock in my back yard smarter than anyone who swallows this piece of BS.

  5. The Watchdog says:

    LOL! Yeah, these invaders are such crime fighters. What would we ever do without them!

  6. psj says:

    WD: That’s why there’s an overwhelming amount of their “concerned” undercover volunteers serving in our penal system - to learn how to combat crime. The California ones are particularly interested in crime-crusading:

    Over half in the CA prison system are illegals.

    Next thing they’ll want gratis is a phone-booth, a cape, and a pair of tights, in red, white and green. We can call him/them “Penal-Man”.

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