A Virginia police officer has been suspended and blasted by his chief for detaining a suspected illegal alien with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant who was involved in a traffic accident.
According to a description of events about the incident, which occurred on September 21, an unidentified Fairfax County Police Department officer discovered that a driver involved in a multi-vehicle collision did not possess a Virginia Operator’s license, and upon further investigation, learned the driver was wanted by ICE for failure to appear at a deportation hearing.
An ICE agent responsible for the case immediately dispatched to the scene, and the officer held the suspect until custody could be transferred to the ICE agent.
The officer has since been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation for allegedly violating department policy to not detain offenders solely due to their immigration status.
Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. issued an official statement about the matter, slamming his own officer and touting the ‘diversity’ of Fairfax County.
“As a matter of full transparency to our community – our police officer violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable,” Roessler wrote. “We have been informed by ICE that the driver was released after three hours and issued an ankle monitor. When I learned of this event, I directed an immediate internal investigation to look at all factors in this matter to ensure that all are held accountable for this violation.”
“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE. This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents. The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation. It is my duty to enforce our FCPD – and Fairfax County – policies and hold all accountable for their actions.”
Roessler offered additional comments regarding disciplinary measures being taken against the officer to the Washington Post.
“This is an unfortunate issue where the officer was confused,” Roessler said. “We have trained on this issue a lot. This is the first time we’ve had a lapse in judgment, and the officer is being punished.”