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Police agencies can set own immigration policies, opt out of training

AZPOST executive director Lyle Mann explained the training outline to the board before they voted to approve its transmittal to Gov. Brewer. (photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

AZPOST executive director Lyle Mann explained the training outline to the board before they voted to approve its transmittal to Gov. Brewer. (photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Local law enforcement agencies will have the authority to craft their own policies to guide the street-level enforcement of Arizona’s new immigration law, and the state’s 15,000 police officers may not be required to go through the training offered by the state.

The Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board on May 19 approved an outline of the training material that it will distribute to police agencies across the state. The goal is to create a uniform set of guidelines that police can rely upon to avoid violating civil rights while enforcing the new immigration law.

Click here to read the training guideline AZPOST presented
Click here to read the letter to Gov. Brewer

But each police agency will have the discretion to create its own policy and, if they so choose, opt out of the state-provided training, said Lyle Mann, director of AZPOST.

“POST is not in the policy business,” Mann said. “We do not do policy. Agencies do their policy. We’re providing the training. Their policy is their policy.”

According to the outline approved May 19, the AZPOST training will consist of watching a video that will feature retired federal immigration agents, law enforcement leaders and public statements made by politicians such as Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Russell Pearce.

The video will include sections on how to avoid racial profiling, how to properly develop “reasonable suspicion,” how to properly assess status documents, how to carry out an immigration status check, how to determine when to apply the day-laborer section of the law and how to deal with the special circumstances that arise when illegal immigrants become witnesses in criminal investigations.

The AZPOST outline, though, failed to answer some of the basic questions about how the law will be enforced on the streets. For instance, it notes that there will be a video segment to address the criteria for establishing “reasonable suspicion,” but it doesn’t explain what the criteria would be.

Mann and other AZPOST officials refused to explain specific recommendations that will be included in the training material, and they offered no further information to explain how police will avoid racial profiling or the process that police will use when verifying residency documents.

Mann said those details will be available when the training video is finalized.

After Brewer approves the outline presented by AZPOST, the board will produce the training video and distribute it to law enforcement agencies across the state by June 30, about a month before the law goes into effect.

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