The Howard County Police Department confirms its commitment to fair treatment for all members of the community, regardless of immigration status, under "General Order, OPS-10, “Foreign-Born Individuals,” which was written in consultation with the county’s Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN).
Officers do not ask about immigration status; rare exceptions may include investigations of suspected criminal activity, including but not limited to, human trafficking, terrorist activity, and gang violence.
A violation of any HCPD policy is referred to the Internal Affairs Division for investigation and may result in appropriate disciplinary action.
HCPD officers have no authority to enforce civil violations of federal immigration laws. Criminal investigations and enforcement are never initiated based solely upon an individual’s immigration status.
No, the HCPD does not call ICE to arrest someone for civil violations of federal immigration laws.
Yes, the HCPD can offer foreign-born individuals referral to services and protections, including T or U Visa information, language services, appropriate community organizations, assistance with consular contacts, etc.
Yes, under qualifying circumstances, the HCPD will help victims of crime and their family members with the T Visa or U Visa process, which provides immigration benefits to victims and witnesses who are working with law enforcement.
The HCPD participates in task forces when the primary focus does not involve the enforcement of civil violations of federal immigration laws. Officers may be assigned to federal task forces that investigate criminal activity such as human trafficking, terrorist acts, narcotics, child pornography, money laundering, hate crimes, etc.
When citizens of countries other than the U.S. are arrested for any criminal violations, they may have certain protections afforded to them via international treaties, in particular the Vienna Convention. Therefore, upon arrest, HCPD officers will attempt to determine an individual’s country of citizenship as required by law to make notification to the appropriate consulate.
If during an officer’s routine computer check, there are any of the following alerts, officers are directed to do the following:
- Criminal Arrest Warrants—If there is an alert that anyone has an outstanding criminal arrest warrant, the officer shall follow standard police procedure and make an arrest. Officers will not make an arrest based on an alert for a civil violation of federal immigration laws.
- Alerts to Contact the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC)—If there is an alert to contact the LESC, the officer shall make contact to determine or confirm the nature of the alert. Officers shall not detain the individual any longer than is necessary to complete the initial contact or stop. Officers are prohibited from detaining an individual based solely on a civil federal immigration violation.
- Previously Deported Felons—If there is an alert that an individual is in the Immigration Violator File (IVF), indicating he/she has illegally returned to the U.S. after being previously convicted of a felony and deported, the officer will make an arrest for that criminal violation, after confirming the IVF status.