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  1. #1
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    Illegal immigration, police debated at hearing

    Illegal immigration, police debated at hearing


    By YOLANDA RODRIGUEZ
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Published on: 01/07/08

    A public hearing on the re-accreditation of the Cobb County Police Department quickly turned to the topic of illegal immigration Monday night.

    The department received words of praise from the Alpharetta and Marietta police departments, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, former Cobb County commissioners and some local residents.

    But people on both sides of the immigration debate jumped on the topic within minutes of the start of the hearing.

    Some speakers were quick to link Mexicans with drug runners.

    Others linked the Cobb police department with the Cobb Sheriff's Office and praised Sheriff Neil Warren in their remarks.

    Warren has an agreement, known as 287 (g), which allows specially trained deputies to start deportation proceedings against people in the jail who are in the country illegally.

    "The Cobb County law enforcement agency exemplifies, in my opinion, the way law enforcement should be perpetrated in every city, in every state, across this nation," said Jo Patricia Aronstein, who lives in Fulton County. "Neil Warren has done his job and he doesn't expect to be patted on the back....My county, Fulton, cannot hold a candle to Cobb County law enforcement."

    The comments regarding the sheriff happened so often that the chairman of the three-member assessment team reminded speakers they were there to look at the Cobb's police department ‚ÄĒ its policies, procedure, management, operations and support services.

    "If you could focus your remarks on the Cobb County police we would be in a better position to bring those remarks and issues to the commission when we report back to them," said Gil Kleinknecht, who chaired the hearing.

    The hearing was part of an assessment of the department by Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). Seeking the accreditation is voluntary. Cobb police must pass 459 rigid standards,

    Cobb first received the seal of approval from CALEA in January 2005. The hearing was part of a regular assessment done every three years.

    Other speakers urged the assessment team members to look at Cobb's policies and data.

    They allege that the department has been engaged in racial profiling since the sheriff's office began its program at the jail and that Cobb police are stopping people who look Hispanic on minor traffic offenses and then are taking them to the jail where many have been ordered held for deportation by immigration officials.

    Swept up in those arrests have been Hispanics who were born in the Unites States and legal immigrants, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

    Hector Toscano, of Mableton, who has lived in Mableton since 1996, said a Cobb police officer went to his home because of loud music during a party commemorating Mexican Independence Day in September 2007.

    Toscano said he was waiting for a ticket for the loud music from the police officer.

    "The next thing you know I was thrown down on the floor," said Toscano, a U.S. citizen. "I was handcuffed. I was pepper-spayed."

    His mother, Graciela Vizcarra, was also arrested when she went out to see what was happening to her son.

    After the hearing, Vizcarra said neither she and nor her son have filed complaints with the department's internal affairs unit because they don't trust that Cobb can investigate its own officers.

    Cobb Police Chief George Hatfield said he has heard similar complaints over the last few months, but only one official complaint has been lodged with the department.

    "I've asked these people, if they feel they are being targeted, come to us and I get no response," Hatfield said.

    Hatfield noted that in 2005 Cobb police arrested one of its own officers for shaking down Hispanic drivers.

    David Gaines Stone was fired and charged with theft by extortion and violation of oath of office after an internal investigation. In that case, one Hispanic victim came forward.

    Gonzalez said Hispanics are reluctant to go to Cobb police with complaints.

    "We are in a position where we don't trust the police," Gonzalez said. "So what good is it to file a complaint with Cobb County police if we can't trust that they will investigate?"

    The perception among Hispanics is that more officers are targeting them simply because of they way they look, said Maria Odom, a former prosecutor for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a forerunner of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Odom, who is now in private practice, said she has seen a rise in complaints of people who have been pulled over in vehicles and others who have been stopped while walking on the street by Cobb police.

    "In some cases there may not be probable cause for pulling over that vehicle or stopping that person walking down the street," Odom said.

    "The concerns regarding due process violations in Cobb County are real," Odom said. "Due process applies and extends not only to U.S. citizens but to foreign nationals in our land. Those due process violations are egregious and they need to be looked at. It really hinders the credibility of Cobb County and its law enforcement agency."

    Not all was criticism of the department.

    Jill Seymour said Cobb police responded quickly when a suspicious person was roaming her Mableton neighborhood.

    "They very came promptly and caught the person before they broke into a house at the end of the subdivision," Seymour said. "I have to give kudos to the Cobb County police department for responding so promptly."

    D.A. King, an opponent of illegal immigration, said: "We are very proud of our police department."

    A final decision on whether the department receives the re-accreditation from CALEA will likely come in March, Kleinknecht said.


    http://www.ajc.com

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    Hector Toscano, of Mableton, who has lived in Mableton since 1996, said a Cobb police officer went to his home because of loud music during a party commemorating Mexican Independence Day in September 2007.

    Toscano said he was waiting for a ticket for the loud music from the police officer.

    "The next thing you know I was thrown down on the floor," said Toscano, a U.S. citizen. "I was handcuffed. I was pepper-spayed."

    His mother, Graciela Vizcarra, was also arrested when she went out to see what was happening to her son.
    I'd sure love to hear the officers side of this story. Was this poor innocent victim maybe drunk? Did he mouth off, Did he resist arrest? I find it hard to believe he answered the door and got this kind of treatment. I wasn't born yesterday.

  3. #3
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    They allege that the department has been engaged in racial profiling since the sheriff's office began its program at the jail and that Cobb police are stopping people who look Hispanic on minor traffic offenses and then are taking them to the jail where many have been ordered held for deportation by immigration officials.

    Swept up in those arrests have been Hispanics who were born in the Unites States and legal immigrants, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.


    OK, are they saying the hispanics were being taken to jail on minor violations? Or are they saying they were illegals and were taken to be held. I mean if they are illegal, they are illegal, and that isn't a minor offense.

    Now if you are a here legally, you should be able to prove it and how can you be 'swept up in these arrests' if you have proper ID?

    I really didn't understand what is being said - well, I know what they are trying to insinuate - but not what they are saying.

    All the stories of the police abuse, I think is bogus. There are, however, bad apples in police departments. If - IF they are abusing hispanics, it's because they are dealing with hispanics. Bad police are just bad police - no matter. They are equal opportunity miscreants.
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    Re: Illegal immigration, police debated at hearing

    Quote Originally Posted by GREGAGREATAMERICAN

    Hector Toscano, of Mableton, who has lived in Mableton since 1996, said a Cobb police officer went to his home because of loud music during a party commemorating Mexican Independence Day in September 2007.

    Toscano said he was waiting for a ticket for the loud music from the police officer.

    "The next thing you know I was thrown down on the floor," said Toscano, a U.S. citizen. "I was handcuffed. I was pepper-spayed."

    http://www.ajc.com
    I don't know to many US citizens that celebrate mexican holidays.

  5. #5
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    Although I don't doubt these are illegals - there are quite a few Americans who celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It has always been pretty big in Texas - even we gringos used to have fun at the celebrations.

    It has become an almost hateful thing now, when once it was as benign as St. Patrick's Day - and if the illegal Irish continue their silliness - St. Paddy's may be off my list also.
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