On Tuesday, a Virginia police chief announced the suspension of one of his officers for alerting federal immigration authorities and detaining an illegal immigrant after a traffic accident.
Edwin C. Roessler Jr. — Fairfax County's top cop — appeared none too pleased with the officer in question. Here's how Roessler's statement concluded:
As a matter of full transparency to our community — our police officer violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable. We have been informed by ICE that the driver was released after three hours and issued an ankle monitor. When I learned of this event, I directed an immediate internal investigation to look at all factors in this matter to ensure that all are held accountable for this violation. Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE. This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents. The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation. It is my duty to enforce our FCPD – and Fairfax County – policies and hold all accountable for their actions.
A fast change of heart
But exactly one day later, Roessler reversed course and said the officer's suspension was over, although the investigation was still ongoing, the Washington Times said.
"We have one of the best police forces in the U.S., and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career," the chief said in a statement, according to the paper.
What gives? Particularly when immigrant-rights activists extended kudos to Roessler and said he showed solidarity with their communities, the Times noted.
Pushback, big time
Turns out that public outcry in the form of assistance and support offers for the suspended cop came pouring in, the paper said.
What's more, some folks on Twitter weren't too happy with Roessler, either:
- "We have a complete moron as chief of @FairfaxCountyPD — Chief Edwin Roessler is a 'social justice' politician first a law enforcement professional not so much — he needs to go — as does the 2007 policy of non-cooperation with ICE," one user opined.
- "Good job #EdwinRoessler, suspend your officers for enforcing the law. Send the illegal on his way with no driver license or auto insurance, so he can crash into someone else that has insurance and a license," another said. "[You're] a disgrace to the badge."
- "@FairfaxCountyPD your Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr is an embarrassment and pathetic excuse of a police officer," someone else noted.
What led to all of this?
The officer in question responded to a traffic accident in Groveton Sept. 21 in which one of the drivers didn't have a license, Patch reported.
When the officer checked out the driver's info, it came to light that Immigration and Customs Enforcement wanted him for not appearing at a deportation hearing, the outlet said.
After verifying the warrant, the officer contacted the ICE agent in charge and issued a summons to the driver for not having a license, Patch continued. The driver signed the summons, was detained, and then was turned over to an ICE agent, the outlet said.
Roessler said in his initial statement suspending the officer that he violated department arrest policy on undocumented immigrants, Patch added:
"If the response reads "OUTSTANDING ADMINISTRATIVE WARRANT OF REMOVAL" and the individual is not in custody or being taken into custody for any other violation of law, officers shall not confirm the hit through the LESC [Law Enforcement Support Center] and shall not take the individual into custody based solely upon the IVF [Immigration Violators File] hit. The majority of such administrative warrants represent civil violations of immigration law.
(H/T: Red State)