San Jose police upset Santa Clara County won't coordinate inmate releases with federal immigration

Police in San Jose are angry, and vowing to take action after a controversial decision by the Santa Clara County Council yesterday.

Law enforcement had asked the county to find a way to work with federal immigration officials when it came to the release of violent, repeat offenders. The county declined.

Now the San Jose Police Officer's Association says they'll continue to fight.

What the San Jose Police Officers Association had wanted was notification of federal officials, of ICE, in the days before a violent, undocumented offender was released from prison.

But Santa Clara County officials considered, then rejected, a change to their current policy.

The debate was a direct result of the murder of Bambi Larsen.

The man charged with her death, Carlos Arevalo-Carranza, had been in and out of police custody and was in the country illegally. ICE had requested he be detained at least nine times.

Kelly says, "Bambi Larsen would be alive today if all they did was pick up the phone. It's that simple. For our county to ignore those things, there will be more Bambi Larsens."

County officials said there were too many hurdles to creating a notification system and no legal way to determine immigration status.

However, Police Chief Eddie Garcia points out other counties are already doing it.

Garcia says, "Monterey County does it. San Mateo County does it. So I find it hard to believe there are counties around us that are actively doing this but our county seems to think it's impossible. That's a little bewildering to me."

Kelly says, "You've got the district attorney, the sheriff, all the chiefs and all the law enforcement groups in this county asking for a change, and you've got a board of supervisors that thinks they're smarter." 

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also weighed in on the decision, releasing a statement that said in part, "The County missed an opportunity to protect our immigrant community and our larger community."

Some immigrants rights groups are cheering the decision.

However, the SJPOA says they'll fight it. 

"I can tell you we were surprised and angered by the decision yesterday. We thought it was going to go somewhere else, caught us off guard to say the least. But we're willing to talk to them. because we're not going to stop. And whatever action we need to take, we'll take it."

As for what happens next, the POA declined to give specifics. The police chief says it is a topic chief's across the country plan to take up jointly over the summer.