Louisville Mayor Pledges Examination Of Police, Immigration Agency Relationship

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Laura Ellis / WFPL

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad with Mayor Greg Fischer at a news conference in September 2016.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called Thursday morning on the city’s police chief to examine his agency’s relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of a story by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The story, published early Thursday, revealed that ICE agents have asked Louisville Metro Police Department officers to serve local warrants, make traffic stops and knock on the doors of non-violent offenders wanted for immigration offenses.

This contradicts the statements of city leaders and goes against the global, compassionate image that officials have worked to cultivate.

(Read “Louisville Police Don’t Enforce Immigration – But Help The Feds Do It“)

LMPD officers don’t enforce immigration violations, but the agency’s policy is to assist any federal agency that requests its help. City dispatchers took ICE’s call for assistance, on average, nearly once a week from January to June, call records show.

Fischer said in a statement that he has asked LMPD Chief Steve Conrad to meet with ICE leaders in the next two weeks “to examine why this is happening, and to more clearly define local and federal roles and procedures.”

“While the reporting shows that only 23 instances took place over a six-month period — with many of them involving local warrants, crimes or safety concerns — these calls divert LMPD resources and erode the trust that our city has worked to build with our immigrant and foreign-born community and to create a welcoming, global city of compassion,” Fischer said in the statement.

Conrad told reporters during a press conference that officers acted appropriately in at least 19 of the 23 calls, and that he’s reviewing the others.

“I believe we acted properly in all of them,” Conrad said of the ICE calls. “I don’t have reason to believe right now we did not.”

Before the story was published, Conrad said in an interview with KyCIR that its officers had to assist when asked as a matter of officer safety. He reiterated Thursday that LMPD officers won’t and don’t ask for documentation.

“We don’t care about a person’s immigration status,” Conrad said. “All we care about is trying to help that person.”

Fischer noted that LMPD does not call ICE — ICE calls them. But he recognized this policy might cause confusion among foreign-born Louisville residents.

“Our process for these calls needs clarity so we continue to be a welcoming city, and we will provide that clarity as soon as possible,” Fischer said. “I want to thank the KyCIR for their important reporting on this matter.”

Read Fischer’s full statement:

LMPD does not enforce federal immigration laws. It does provide assistance to federal agents when there is the potential for danger, when federal agents detain people who have local warrants for their arrest, or when a crime is occurring.

However, as reporting by Kate Howard of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting shows, LMPD has responded on a few occasions as back-up for ICE officials or to simply knock on a door to help clear a house. I have asked LMPD Chief Steve Conrad to meet with ICE leaders within the next two weeks to examine why this is happening, and to more clearly define local and federal roles and procedures when ICE agents are calling into MetroSafe for assistance.

I recognize that this matter may cause confusion and disappointment in our foreign-born community and I have asked Bryan Warren, who leads our globalization efforts, to meet with immigrant leaders to hear their concerns and report back to me with potential recommendations.

While the reporting shows that only 23 instances took place over a six-month period — with many of them involving local warrants, crimes or safety concerns — these calls divert LMPD resources and erode the trust that our city has worked to build with our immigrant and foreign-born community and to create a welcoming, global city of compassion.

LMPD officers are doing their job – responding to calls that come into our 911 dispatch center. LMPD does not ask immigration status when responding to any of the 700,000 calls for service each year, and LMPD does not call ICE — ICE calls them. Our process for these calls needs clarity so we continue to be a welcoming city, and we will provide that clarity as soon as possible.

I want to thank the KyCIR for their important reporting on this matter.

Al Día en América contributed to this report. Kate Howard can be reached at khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546.

This story has been updated.