Tucson police officers immediately responded to assist the United States Border Patrol in a more than two-hour search Friday after an agent said a suspect escaped custody at Banner University Medical Center, according to a release from Tucson Police Department.
But President of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2544 Art Del Cueto said Saturday that a management-level supervisor with the Tucson Police Department did not wish to continue to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents in their search for an escaped, illegal immigrant Friday.
"TPD did assist, however at some point what we're getting from individuals who were actually there on scene was that somebody in management from TPD came out and said due to the current political climate, they would no longer assist border patrol in this," Del Cueto said. "They also asked border patrol to leave the premises."
TPD said a total of 17 officers, including three K-9 units and an air unit, responded to help locate the suspect, identified as 37-year-old Carlos Erazo-Velasquez.
After more than two hours searching the nearby area, officers determined he was most likely not within the contained area, according the release.
TPD said that USBP advised the department that Erazo-Velasquez was originally in custody for being in the country illegally and for assaulting an agent during his initial detention.
Friday night demonstrators showed up at the hospital where USBP had set up a command post, according to TPD.
USBP requested to relocate to a Tucson Police Department substation parking lot on Miracle Mile, but the request was denied.
In a post written by Cueto featured on the NBPC Local 2544 Facebook page, he claims that after reports of the escapee, Tucson Border Patrol Sector set up an incident command post at a TPD substation.
He goes on to say "management within Tucson Police Department then decided that, "due to the current political climate regarding immigration enforcement they refused to assist Tucson Sector Border Patrol."
You can read the full post here.
"It has nothing to do with immigration," Cueto said. "It has something to do with a convicted felon running around the streets of Tucson, and Tucson changing their mind and stopping from doing the right thing because of political pressure, and that is wrong."
TPD said that the time of night, a busy call volume and lack of the staff necessary to manage a demonstration at the substation were all factors in not accommodating the request.
TPD asked USBP to relocate to their own facility, a distance that was not operationally detrimental to the search, according to the release.
TPD said staff was unaware if in fact USBP had relocated to the substation prior to making their request.
Erazo-Velasquez has not been found as of Monday morning.
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