AUSTIN, Texas - Austin police are reviewing their policies, and learning how to enforce SB 4. In the past, interim Chief Brian Manley has made his feelings on the “anti-sanctuary cities law” clear.
“I think the community's aware of my sentiments, the sentiments of the police department, when SB 4 was being debated at the legislature, having testified against it in the House and Senate,” said Manley.
SB 4 said police officers will not be punished for asking immigration status at traffic stops. Manley said Austin police officers were always allowed to ask, but SB 4 lets officers ask during a detention, in addition to an arrest.
“I personally believe there's a purpose for that when someone's under arrest, but we expressed as a group collectively (police chiefs across Texas) have questioned the ability to ask that during a mere detention. The courts have ruled and our policy will allow that question to be asked,” said Manley.
SB 4 has had an interesting journey. It passed during the legislative session, however most parts of the law were blocked last month by a lower court judge. But Monday, a federal judge allowed Texas to enforce major parts of the law. That's why police departments across the state are reviewing policies.
“The training videos will go out to our officers and we stand ready to comply,” said Manley.
The chief said police officers cannot ask immigration status if you are a witness or victim to a crime...a message he hopes resonates.
“We are concerned about your safety not your status. It is still important for you to trust us as a department, to understand the importance of our relationship, and to be willing to come forward,” said Manley.
Opponents of SB 4 believe the law is discriminatory and violates the fourth amendment rights. SB 4 still has a journey through the court. Only then will we know the fate of the law. Until then, APD must still do their job, and enforce the laws made by the Texas legislature.