Seal Beach can’t afford cost of immigration enforcement

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Seal Beach Police Chief Jeff Kirkpatrick

According to Seal Beach Police Chief Jeff Kirkpatrick, it would cost almost a quarter million dollars to train officers to check the immigration status of arrestees.

Kirkpatrick gave his estimate to the City Council at the agency’s  Monday, Sept. 13 meeting.

The four council members who were present voted to receive and file Kirkpatrick’s report. District 3 Councilman Gordon Shanks was absent for medical reasons.

Kirkpatrick called the cost of sending officers to the East Coast for Immigration and Customs Enforcement training “a lot of money that I could use elsewhere.”

This was the second time the issue came before the City Council.

Out-going District 1 Councilman Charles Antos first raised the subject of declaring Seal Beach a “Rule of Law” city at the June 14 council meeting.

At the time, Kirkpatrick said he did not have the resources to enforce a policy declaring that Seal Beach would enforce federal immigration laws.

The council received and filed the June 14 report. However, Antos later asked for specific information about the cost of a “Rule of Law” declaration.

In his written staff report to the Sept. 13 council meeting, Kirkpatrick said that if the city wanted the make a symbolic statement supporting federal immigration laws.

However, when he spoke to the council Monday night, Kirkpatrick said the American Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit against the city of Pasadena for failing to document every contact with immigrants.

According to the staff report, the Seal Beach Police Department current cooperates with ICE.

“All arrestees are fingerprinted through the Cal-ID system in the Seal Beach Detention Center,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “The fingerprints are checked through an ICE data bank and ICE will notify SBPD that a person in its custody is possibly in the country illegally.”

When suspects are identified as possible illegal immigrants, Seal Beach holds them until ICE officials can pick them up.

Kirkpatrick wrote that in order to actively enforce immigration laws, Seal Beach would have to enter a memorandum of agreement with ICE through the ICE 287 (g) program.

“The training requirements for officers selected to participate in the ICE 287(g) program include attending a four-week training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Charleston, South Carolina,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

He told the council that ICE would pay for the cost of travel, room and board.

However, the report said it would take years to send each of 29 police officers and eight senior community service officers who work at the city jail for four weeks of ICE training.

Kirkpatrick said ICE would not come out to California to provide the training to officers.

While Kirkpatrick said sending officers to South Carolina for ICE training would cost “about $250,000,” the figures in his written report were more specific.

“The cost to send 29 police officers to training, each for four weeks, is minimally estimated to be $196,765,” he wrote. “This figure is based on the salary and benefits of a police officer at top step salary. It does not account for the differences in rank or position pay, such as for corporals and sergeants.”

Kirkpatrick wrote that the cost of sending the eight community service officers would be approximately $50,192. That figure was also based on a senior CSO’s top step salary.

The report also said there would be additional costs to “backfill overtime to cover work shifts for those who are absent while attending training.”

The report did not provide specific figures for potential overtime pay.

The report also said there were costs that could not be determined for the time spent interviewing possible illegal immigrants to the time spent by staff to change booking policies and procedures.

Mayor David Sloan asked what was the city’s current policy for checking immigration status.

Kirkpatrick said that when an individual is arrested and brought to the city jail, there are three options: the arrestee may be cited and released, the arrestee may post bail or the arrestee may be sent to the Orange County Jail.

He said if the individual’s fingerprints are not in the ICE database and they are released on bail or a promise to appear in court, it is possible that someone who is in the U.S. illegally could be released undetected.

According to Kirkpatrick, if a prisoner is shipped to the county jail, there are deputies there who have relieved the ICE training who can determine that person’s immigration status.

Antos said he was sorry that ICE would not come out to California to provide officers with training to enforce immigration laws. However, he agreed that Seal Beach could not afford the cost of backfilling shifts for officers who were out of state.

Antos moved to receive and file the report.

Seal Beach can’t afford cost of immigration enforcement