TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - They generally serve the same population, but some of southern Arizona’s top lawmen don’t seem to agree on their image within the immigrant community.
*Editor’s note - a statement provided after this story was first published has since been added.
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus testified Wednesday, Dec. 12 before U.S. Senators about border security and the relationship local departments have with immigrants. He mentioned that some may be hesitant to reach out for help when they’re worried about an agency’s priority for immigration and working with federal partners.
"As a result, an already marginalized community is less inclined to turn to us, making it much harder to apprehend criminals," he said. "And of course when crimes go unreported and unsolved, the cartels go unchecked and increase their power."
Tucson News Now contacted Tucson Police Department for some insight into Magnus' comments. The chief is traveling, but his Chief of Staff Mike Silva shared some information.
He said what the chief was referring to might not be reflected in call logs or crime states, but it's clear from the meetings Magnus has held with various community groups and advocacy organizations.
They mention fears and concerns from immigrants living in Tucson, according to Silva. He said TPD will continue to work hard at maintaining relationships with these groups to make sure they know immigration is not a priority for the department.
In a memo to the Board of Supervisors defending Operation Stonegarden, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier included references to his agency's relationship with the Hispanic community.
Call records provided in the memo show that roughly a quarter of the calls to PCSD come from the Hispanic community. Napier stated in the memo that it's a clear indication that the department's relationship is not hurt by any connection to federal immigration enforcement.
The representation of calls from the Hispanic community is underrepresented, however. Hispanics make up more than a third of Pima County’s population, according to estimates from the U.S. Census.
Napier doesn’t expect the call totals to match up with any demographic, according to a statement released Monday, December 17.
“We would not expect the percentage of calls coming into 911 from any racial group to be perfectly reflected in community demographics. This can be for a variety of reasons related to crime and the event of criminal victimization. We do see that the percentage of Hispanic callers has remained very consistent over the past decade. The current changes in administration in Washington and its focus on immigration appear to have no impact on persons contacting our department via 911 for assistance. Additionally, our department has a policy specifically prohibiting asking crime victims about immigration status unless that it is related directly to the crime being investigated.”