Grand Rapids Police Department adds foreign nationals policy

Posted at 7:34 AM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 08:09:40-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Police Department has added a policy that establishes guidelines for department personnel to follow when interacting with foreign nationals – individuals who are not naturalized citizens of the country where they’re living. The guidelines ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

The goals of the policy, which aligns with the City’s Strategic Plan that prioritizes a safe community in which all people feel safe and are safe at all times throughout the city, are:

  • Foster trust and cooperation with all people served by GRPD
  • Increase effectiveness of the department in protecting and serving the entire community
  • Encourage all people to communicate with GRPD without fear of inquiry into their immigration or documentation status
  • Comply with federal and international law regarding diplomatic immunity and consular notification

“All members of our police department – both sworn and civilian – are dedicated to serving everyone who lives, works and plays in our city with the highest degree of professionalism, dignity and respect,” Police Chief Eric Payne said. “This policy codifies that commitment and the expectation that everyone in our community receives equal service regardless of citizenship or immigration status.”

Under the policy, no member of GRPD may:

  • Coerce, threaten with deportation or engage in verbal abuse with any person based on the person’s or the person’s family members’ actual or perceived immigration status or citizenship
  • Inquire into a person’s immigration status when the person seeks police services, such as filing a police report or calling 911
  • Stop, question, investigate, arrest, search or detain an individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration status, actual or suspected violations of federal civil immigration law, prior deportation order or other civil immigration document
  • Inquire about immigration status of any person or require any individual to produce any document to prove their immigration status. Exceptions may be made for legitimate law enforcement needs. These include:
  • Complying with consular notification and diplomatic or consular immunity requirements
  • Information required by federal, state or city law, including background checks and employment requirements
  • When circumstances of an ongoing criminal investigation make the information relevant to the investigation – not civil immigration enforcement
  • Request translation services from federal immigration authorities – unless there’s an imminent danger to the public

The policy allows officers to provide assistance to federal immigration authorities when there is an emergency that poses an immediate danger to public safety or federal agents. The policy also provides guidelines specific to the department’s investigations division and records unit as well as consular notification procedures and diplomatic immunity. Read the full policy HERE.

GRPD is not responsible for or has the authority to enforce federal civil immigration laws used to detain or remove undocumented immigrants from the U.S. That means GRPD does not serve as a civil immigration enforcement for the federal government. The department does not perform immigration functions unrelated to the investigation and enforcement of criminal violations.

“This policy brings together current practices of our police department and input we have received from the community,” Payne said. “It’s another step forward in strengthening trust with the community we serve and providing clearer direction to our officers.”

This comes after a situation back in November where a GRPD captain contacted ICE after setting a fire at the helipad of a Grand Rapids hospital.