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Arguments at L.A. City Hall over Order 40

October 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many gathered at a Los Angeles City Council hearing on Monday to speak about a 29-year-old police policy. Special Order 40 has long prohibited officers from inquiring of a person's immigration status.Some of the comments stemmed from the recent killing of young athlete Jamiel Shaw this past summer. The man accused of murdering Shaw is an alleged illegal immigrant gang member.

The family of Jamiel Shaw wants Special Order 40 changed. They contend that the 17-year-old gang member who allegedly killed their son would have been back on a bus south of the border, instead of roaming their South Los Angeles neighborhood, if Special Order 40 had been modified or rescinded.

"The facts are that my son was killed by an illegal alien that was in the country. He shouldn't have been here. He was in the county jail. He was released without calling ICE. 24 hours later, he was in my neighborhood and he murdered my son," said Jamiel Shaw Sr., the victim's father.

Radio talk show hosts also took up the family's cause. Many of their listeners jammed city hall on Monday morning.

"There is going to be a revolt ... the likes of which you have never seen ... if you continue to have illegal gangbangers committing murder on our streets," said Linda Romney, who supports a change in Special Order 40.

At least as many citizens showed up to voice their support for Special Order 40 on Monday. They said modifying the order to allow police to target gang members, solely for being in the country illegally, would lead to racial profiling.

"How are we going to make those distinctions for LAPD? If I wear this hat in a certain way, will I look like a gang member? If I put my hood on ... would I look like a gang member? Would you prosecute me and tell me that I'm illegal for the way that I look?" said Pete Romero, who opposes a change in Special Order 40.

Current LAPD officials, and former chief Daryl Gates, testified that there is nothing in Order 40 that prevents officers from working with federal immigration agents. They say police often flag gang members and other law breakers for deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, or ICE agents, are working out of several LAPD stations.

Councilman Dennis Zine says he just wants Special Order 40 clarified.

"They're not going to be racial profiling, they're not going to go in there and do immigration sweeps. Simply, when they come into contact with a gang member, who is a known gang member, they're going to take the action that we, as tax payers, ask that they do to keep our city safe. And, it's no more than that," said Zine.

Chief William Bratton of the LAPD says Special Order 40 will not be changed.

"It will not be repealed. It will not be changed as long as I'm Chief of Police," said Bratton.

Chief Bratton says that Special Order 40 actually helps police fight crime. Bratton says the order gives immigrants confidence to come forward and share information with police detectives without fear of being deported.


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