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Opinion

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery: Community concerns regarding immigration

DeKalb Police Chief Eugene Lowery
submitted photo
DeKalb Police Chief Eugene Lowery submitted photo

In response to a series of public inquiries and concerns related to the DeKalb Police Department regarding our approach to immigration and customs enforcement, the department would like to reassure our community that the approaches taken by DeKalb police with regard to such issues are not planned to change, and we will not be undertaking any form of primary immigration enforcement activity.

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order regarding immigration that has generated numerous community concerns for undocumented immigrants and how the order will affect treatment of them by the police.

These concerns have been raised in our community and across the nation.

As such, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have sought to clarify the role of local police agencies with regard to the executive order.

The IACP and I, as the chief of police for the city of DeKalb, believe that to reduce fear and ensure that we have an open and honest relationship with our community, it is essential that we understand the role of the local police regarding the presidential executive order.

Recent reports that federal authorities are considering using local law enforcement agencies in the apprehension and removal of undocumented immigrants from our communities has generated significant concerns.

A statement released by the IACP indicated that, “President Trump’s January 25th Executive Order (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) only directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to use his existing authority under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to enter into voluntary agreements with state and local agencies to perform immigration enforcement duties.

“However, the IACP has, and will continue to strongly oppose any initiative that would mandate that state and local law enforcement agencies play a role in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The IACP believes that the issue of state, tribal, or local law enforcement’s participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by law enforcement executives, working with their elected officials, community leaders, and citizens.”  

Federal authorities have the primary responsibility to enforce immigration laws. In DeKalb, we must seek a balance between the current national discussion about immigration and what the role of the DeKalb police is within our community.

DeKalb police are committed to reducing crime and enhancing our quality of life through an active partnership with our community.

Regardless of anyone’s immigration status, we will always help those in need, tend to our victims and do the right thing at the right time for all people.

We want our community members to voice their concerns, report crime without fear and have a trusting relationship with their police department.

We do not want people to fear that federal authorities will be notified after DeKalb police pull them over for a traffic violation or respond to their call for help.

We must have a “behavior-driven policing philosophy” where if you are engaged in criminal behavior, you have to be held accountable. Yet any attempt to target noncriminals would destroy the trust our residents have in the police.

The DeKalb police will not determine what action will be taken based on anyone’s immigration status.

We will take the appropriate action based on the needs of our community, and we will proactively seek to rid our neighborhoods of the criminals who victimize us.

As the chief of police, I support the position taken by the IACP, and I look forward to building on the positive relationship we have with our community.

• Gene Lowery is the DeKalb police chief.

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