I sent this e-mail to the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative yesterday:
An article today states:
The Los Angeles Police Department’s landmark Special Order 40, which prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects, has come under an aggressive assault by anti-illegal immigrant activists who argue that it ties the hands of police.
“L.A. police immigrant policy faces another test,” April 11, 2007.
It is incorrect to assert that Special Order 40 “prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects.” You can read Special Order 40 here:
It doesn’t say what today’s article claims. The Rampart Independent Review Panel explained in 2001, in a report on Special Order 40:
On November 27, 1979, Chief of Police Darryl Gates issued Special Order 40, which is now codified in the LAPD Manual. . . [N]othing in the [LAPD] Manual actually bars an officer who is investigating an individual for criminal activity other than an immigration violation from asking that person about his or her immigration status and then advising INS.
Special Order 40 primarily prevents LAPD officers from initiating contact with a suspect for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws. Once a person is lawfully in custody for a non-immigration related offense, however, nothing in Special Order 40 prevents an officer from inquiring into the suspect’s immigration status.
The Panel explained that LAPD practice has become more restrictive than the language of Special Order 40. So your paper’s article may have properly described LAPD practices. But those practices are not compelled by Special Order 40, and Special Order 40 does not “prohibit officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects,” as today’s article claims.
I know you all like to keep up with my correspondence with the Readers’ Rep, so there you go. I’ll let you know what I hear back.