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Denver police detective says city's 'sanctuary city' policies are adding to heroin epidemic

A Denver police detective told a congressional hearing that the city's immigration policies are adding to the heroin crisis. (FotoMaximum/Getty Images)

The Denver Police Union president says the the city’s immigration policies are adding to its heroin problem. He reportedly made the comment before a congressional committee in Washington, D.C., investigating “sanctuary cities."

“I’ve seen, I’ve lived the whole heroin epidemic in Denver from the beginning,” Det. Nick Rogers, who has worked in narcotics for more than 30 years, told KCNC-TV.

Is it a lack of communication?

Rogers said that prior to last October, he worked closely with federal immigration agents to help deport some of the city's most notorious drug dealers.

“Now they’re being released from jail within 32-48 hours, and they’re back selling heroin again,” Rogers told KCNC-TV.

According to Rogers, a city ordinance prevents him from freely communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“They’re protecting the criminal element,” Rogers said. “They’re out there running with impunity. They’re not even looking over their shoulders.”

Deputy Chief Matt Murray disputes Rogers’ claim.

“He clearly doesn’t understand the training or ordinance,” Murray said, adding that Rogers is able to contact ICE.

Murray said police are able to get information to help prosecute criminal activity.

"What he can’t do is assist the federal government in enforcing civil federal statutes,” Murray said.

The Denver Police Department maintains that officers should not be doing the job of federal agents, but that causes a communication problem.

"When police officers are not allowed to interact with federal agents, it makes it impossible for federal agents to know that an illegal alien has committed this crime," Bryan O'Neill, vice president of the Denver Police Protective Association, told KDVR-TV.

Who else was involved?

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told KDVR-TV that many immigration violations are criminal, but police can’t ask ICE or any suspect about their immigration status.

ICE is not permitted to go into the jail to interview suspects, he said.

"Our job is to prosecute criminal matters, not to deal with civil enforcement of a person’s status in this country," Murray told KDVR-TV. "And we respect that ICE has that job and they do that job and we don’t inhibit them from doing that job. We just don’t participate."

Buck invited Rogers to testify, according to reports.

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