City leaders want to make sure that when residents open their door to someone wearing a uniform emblazoned with the word “police,” the person they're greeting is actually an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department - and not an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent.
The City Council passed a resolution May 26 strongly urging ICE agents to wear visible identification that clearly distinguishes them as immigration officials. The agents currently wear clothing that says “police” and identify themselves as police. City officials argue that this creates confusion and damages the delicate relationship Minneapolis Police have with members of the immigrant community.
“If you hear a knock on the door and they say, ‘FBI, open up,' you know it's the FBI,” Mayor R.T. Rybak said. “If you hear a knock on the door and they say ‘Police,' you don't know whether it's the police or the immigration officials.”
This can lead residents to mistrust police officers and can make them afraid to go to the police when they need help or want to report a serious crime, contend Rybak and Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan. It also prevents city police officers from building networks in the community and, therefore, makes all neighborhoods in the city less safe, they said.
“It is vital, right now, for people to know that the Minneapolis Police are there to protect and serve,” Rybak said.
Minneapolis has a city ordinance preventing city police from asking about immigration status or enforcing federal immigration laws. City officials want to make sure immigration officials identifying themselves as police don't undermine that law, which was designed to garner the trust of immigrant communities.
“We have nurtured it as a fragile thing,” Councilmember Don Samuels (5th Ward) said. “And all it takes is a half-dozen police-jacketed raids on this population, and all we have created will be destroyed.”
Kari VanDerVeen can be reached at [email protected] and 436-4373