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Pressure is on: L.A.'s Special Order 40

SCV Voices

Posted: May 19, 2008 7:27 p.m.
Updated: July 19, 2008 5:01 a.m.
I had the pleasure of attending the Ignacio Ramos/Jose Compean Fundraiser, earlier this month at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The fundraiser for imprisoned U.S. Border agents was a sell-out. I was delighted to see many Santa Claritans there who contributed the $25 per ticket to see Chris Burgard's Border, the spellbinding movie about illegal immigration, revealing the plight of those who illegally cross the border.

I also had a chance to talk to Jamiel Shaw, Sr. Jamiel is the father of murder victim Jamiel Shaw, Jr. (1990-2008), allegedly executed by 19-year-old illegal alien Pedro Espinoza, three doors from Shaw's home. The conversation centered on "Jamiel's Law," a recision of the Special Order 40. Shaw Sr. related to me his son's killing has struck a nerve and the pressure on him to rescind his request for changes to Specail Order was strong and intense from the Mayor of Los Angeles, Chief of Police Bratton, and even the District Attorney's Office.

Special Order 40, a police mandate implemented in November 1979 by the Los Angeles City Council with vehement support from Chief Daryl Gates, prevents LAPD officers from obtaining immigration status from detained suspects. The mandate was passed in an effort to encourage residents who were in the country illegally to come forward and report crimes without fear of deportation. Open to interpretation, Special Order 40 also prevents officers from seeking immigration status from gang members, violent criminals, and other felons.

Thirteen years later in November 1992, California Attorney General Dan Lundgren addressed the constitutionality of Special Order 40. The question was asked, "May a city prohibit its officers and employees from cooperating in their official capacities with immigration and naturalization Service investigation, detention, or arrest procedures relating to alleged violations of the civil provisions of federal immigration policy?"

The Attorney General responded, "Due to the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution, a city may not prohibit its officers and employees from cooperating in their official capacities with the INS (ICE)." The Los Angeles City Council is in bold defiance of federal law.

Problematic rule
Illegal aliens have found ample and strong support, in the City and County of Los Angeles, state of California, and across America. Though the original intent of Chief Gates was to encourage the much smaller illegal alien population to come out of the shadows and report crime in their own community, the end result is we now have an absolutely out of control law enforcement problem, and in the lyrics of The Temptations, "A Ball of Confusion."

Law enforcement agencies, quite obviously are not working together well to solve criminal activity. The case of Jamile Shaw is an example of how communications breaks down because because of Special Order 40. ICE says there was a hold on the suspect, Espinoza. The Sherriff's Office says there was not a hold on the 18th Street domestic terrorist / gang member. After serving 4 months of a six month gun sentence, suspect Espinoza, was released and within 27 hours allegedly shot Jamiel.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his hand-picked Chief of Police Bill Bratton are ardent supporters of Special Order 40. So is D.A Steve Cooley. Chief Bratton claims the 29-year-old policy on Special Order 40 is misunderstood, misrepresented, and misinterpreted. He says removing Special Order 40 would result in racial profiling.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, a 40-year retired LAPD officer, disagrees with the chief. Councilman Zine states that he has been around the LAPD a lot longer than Bratton, both before and after Special Order 40. Zine reiterates rank and file LAPD Officers are perplexed by Special Order 40, and that is bad for the state of law enforcement.

SCV deputies
There is official policy that prevents Santa Clarita deputies from fully investigating crime including immigration status of those arrested. Here's how it works in the SCV. A deputy will make an arrest and once the suspect is adjudicated and commences his sentence, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will enter the custody sector and interview incarcerants. It is at that time, ICE will determine the immigration status.

ICE has a special training program called 287g. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act allows the Federal Government to enter into training agreements with all participating local, county, and state law enforcement agencies. In other states, such as Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona, the 287g Memorandum of Agreement is working well.

Regrettably, California, and in particular, Los Angeles County has been slow to respond to add this important component. When it is applied properly, deputies in the custody units of all of our jails will be trained. 287g is an effective tool in keeping illegal alien criminals offs the streets and upon completion of their jail or prison terms, these criminals will be deported.

One fact is indisputable. Special Order 40 is not working.

Unfortunately, there will be more tragedies like Jamiel Shaw.

The pressure is on.

Roger Gitlin is a Santa Clarita resident, teacher and Minuteman. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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