There will soon be 100 new members of the department.
by Patrick Young, Esq. - Blogger
Every few months, I like to take at look at whether the Suffolk Police are correcting the shortcomings they have had in dealing with the immigrant community.
The Suffolk County Police Department will be doing new hires this fall. Roughly 100 officers will join the department. Under a new initiative, 10% will be Spanish-speaking. This is an important step forward for the nearly uniformly monolingual department. Even so, at this rate, it will take a decade for the department to have enough bi-lingual officers to make a difference county-wide.
The police have also been doing more outreach in the community to encourage greater understanding between immigrants and the department. In at least one outreach meeting, Spanish—speakers were told that there was not going to be translation and that they needed to stay in the back of the room and wait until the end of the meetings for an explanation of what went on. The police say they are working to make sure this shortcoming is addressed.
The Suffolk County Police do not honor immigration detainers unless they are accompanied by a warrant. The department has no special relationship with ICE and there is no ICE office at the Suffolk County Police Department. There is much less reason for immigrants to fear the Suffolk police than there was in the past.
Hate crimes continue to be an issue. There are many concerns about the recent hate crime in Farmingville in which a Guatemalan man was beaten by three men who had been riding in a pick-up truck. When the victim tried to report the attack to the police, the officer receiving the report did not use the department’s translation facilities. Fortunately, a community activist was able to help him make the report, but immigrants worry that had the activist not been present, his report would never have been made.