An immigrant is pulled over in Park City, but what happens next? | ParkRecord.com

An immigrant is pulled over in Park City, but what happens next?

Officers do not probe status during everyday police actions, chief says

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

When a Park City police officer pulls a driver over, the officer generally will not initially probe the person's nationality or immigration status.

Instead, according to Police Chief Wade Carpenter, the officer will request a driver license and the vehicle registration. If the officer can gather the person's identity through the driver license and essentially confirm there is a likelihood they will appear in court, the person will be released with a ticket. It would not matter if the person was a U.S. citizen or in the country illegally.

But if the person is arrested, typically on felony charges or serious misdemeanor counts, they would be taken to the Summit County Jail. At that point, the Summit County Sheriff's Office would check the immigration status. The Sheriff's Office would consult with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement about whether they will be detained and then transferred into that agency's custody.

"First off, we don't focus on their status. We focus on their crime or their violation," the police chief said.

Law-enforcement processes were of note during a widely attended forum last week in the Snyderville Basin that focused on immigration issues. The forum's panel included Carpenter and Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez. Both of them provided some of the critical comments as they described the relationship between law enforcement and immigrants.

The forum was organized after Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended four people in Park City who were wanted on felony counts involving re-entering the country or unspecified other offenses. The arrests spurred widespread concern in the area's immigrant community and prompted the forum.

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Some of the people at the forum appeared to be interested in the processes triggered when a person suspected to be in the country illegally is arrested. The sheriff gave a rundown, describing that the immigration status is checked when someone is taken to jail. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be contacted if someone cannot prove they are legally allowed to be in the country, the sheriff said at the forum, explaining that the person would be eligible to post bail and be released if Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not order them held. Martinez, like Carpenter, said immigration status is not checked as a part of routine law enforcement.

Carpenter, meanwhile, said he has met with a newly arrived ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement figure in Salt Lake City. The two intend to ensure there is better communication between the Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Carpenter said.