The Daily Star is reporting:
Sheriff’s departments and other local police agencies aren’t required to refrain from asking people about their immigration status despite an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that law enforcement officers are now prohibited from such actions.
A memo issued this week by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association to its members, one that was acquired by CNHI, advised sheriffs that they have no obligation to follow the executive order issued by Cuomo last week.
Thomas Mitchell, counsel to the association, said in the emailed memo that the Cuomo directive “applies to state officers, and has no application to local law enforcement, and does not apply to Sheriff’s Offices.”
Mitchell also said that his interpretation of the executive order was confirmed by Janine Kava, a Cuomo appointee who oversees communications for the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Peter Kehoe, director of the Sheriffs’ Association, said questions arose about Cuomo’s announcement because a press release from the governor’s office stated the edict applied to “law enforcement officers,” implying that agencies not under Cuomo’s authority had to abide by it.
Several sheriff’s agencies, including Niagara, Franklin and Clinton, patrol counties that run along Canada’s southern border and their deputies and investigators often encounter people of questionable immigration status.
Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said it is important that his officers know the background of people they encounter if they are “in a suspicious area, or are engaging in suspicious activities.”
“I think common sense and good judgment needs to come into play in everyday police work,” Favro said.
He added: “If I’m empowering my people to carry deadly weapons and make decisions on life or death, I need to be able to empower my people to use good judgment and allow them the discretion to make appropriate decisions so they can identify people in situations where it is necessary.”
Favro recalled the investigation into the 2007 murder of Darcy Manor in Mooers. The man charged and later convicted in that killing, Glen Race, had come to Clinton County from Nova Scotia.
Race, sent to state prison for the Manor murder, was found not criminally responsible for two other murders in Halifax the same year that Manor was shot to death outside a hunting lodge, after his attorney successfully argued he suffered from psychosis that caused him to believe he was a warrior dispatched to kill vampires and demons.
Cuomo’s announcement noted that the prohibition on inquiring about immigration status does not apply when the police officers are investigating illegal activity.