Law enforcement preparing for immigration law

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, September 29, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Local law enforcement officials are planning for a period of extensive training for their officers in the wake of a federal judge upholding most of Alabama’s new immigration law.

One day after U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn upheld most of the provisions listed in Alabama’s new immigration law, law enforcement officials at the Alabaster Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said they were working to train their officers on enforcing the new law.

“The bottom line is that we got a 115-page ruling yesterday. We will digest it and then go from there,” said Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry. “Any time you’ve got a new law, you’ve got to have training for your people.

“For instance, when we had new laws related to domestic violence, sex offender registration and DUI charges, there was a period of time we had to spend training our people,” Curry said.

Blackburn’s ruling upheld a section of the law allowing law enforcement officers to verify with the federal government a person’s legal status if the person is stopped.

Curry and Alabaster Police Department Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney said they plan to seek guidance from the Alabama attorney general’s office before formulating their officer training programs.

“We will enforce the law as we always have through training and knowledge of the law. We are waiting on guidance from the attorney general’s office,” Rigney wrote in a press release. “We will work with attorney general Luther Strange to provide the necessary training to our officers and follow the procedures set forth by the courts.”

While Blackburn’s ruling was pending, Curry said he and his employees developed a plan to set in motion should the law be upheld.

After seeking guidance from the attorney general’s office to ensure the department “understands the law and ruling,” Curry said the department will develop an in-service training block for deputies based on Strange’s instruction.

Curry also said the department will “deliver the training to the troops at the earliest possible date,” and will “enforce this law equally with all other laws and Judge Blackburn’s ruling to the very best of our ability, every day, all day and night.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all people fairly without any form or type of discrimination. And if someone’s citizenship, residency, immigration status or anything else comes into question, we will take the appropriate steps,” Curry wrote in an email.

Curry said it is “too early to make a statement as to how (the law) will affect our jail operations and our law enforcement operations.”