‘Special Order 40 is not changing one word’


Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton sat down with The Times’ editorial board on Monday to discuss several LAPD-related issues. Below are his remarks on the controversy surrounding the department’s Special Order 40.

Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times: There’s been a lot of discussion in City Hall recently about Special Order 40, whether any kind of changes are warranted to it. Does Special Order 40 still work for the department? Is there any reason to amend it at all from your perspective?

William Bratton: No … Special Order 40 is not changing one word as long as I’m chief, and I have no intention of changing it, and the Police Commission is pretty adamant about that it’s worked for almost 30 years. And in terms of its intent and the language of Special Order 40, it’s pretty specific … It reads, “Enforcement of United States immigration laws: Officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person. Officers shall not arrest, nor book persons for violations of Title 8, Section 1325 of the United States immigration code,” which is illegal entry. Pretty clear language to me; I don’t understand what the big confusion is about. [L.A. City Councilman] Dennis Zine evidently has some problems with this standard.


Then Item 2, “Alien arrest information - notification: When an undocumented alien is booked for multiple misdemeanor offenses, a high grade misdemeanor or a felony offense, or has been previously arrested for a similar offense, the arresting officer shall,” and there’s a whole series of procedures he has to go through. It’s that clarification we’re going to provide, because some of our officers apparently, either because they want to believe it or don’t understand the guidelines, feel that they cannot ask after they’ve stopped somebody, arrested them, et cetera, for their immigration status …

The difficulty currently for us is technologically, when we do a wants and warrants check, NCI check, illegal immigration status, deportation orders, we open this file, another over here, so it requires going through a separate [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] file, to gain access to that information. ICE is in the process of changing so that very shortly when we do the [National Crime Information Center] check, it will have all of ICE’s information included. So it’ll be one-stop-shop instead of having to go to different information streams to get that information.

But the questionable issue is the idea, an officer sees John Jones and says, “I know that guy was arrested, convicted and was deported. What’s he doing back here again?” Nothing to preclude that officer from going up and basically dealing with that individual, and that seems to be the issue that some of our officers have that they feel that Special Order 40 precludes that. It doesn’t preclude that at all. If you have that suspicion, basically go up, you basically talk to the person … and the clarification will describe what basically the procedures that are already here and just amplify them. And then we’ll train the whole department …

But the wording itself, the intent, that’s not changing. And based on the majority of the City Council, despite Dennis Zine, I’m not going to change it. Zine’s recommendation, where he’s playing off the Jamiel Shaw plea, that we go up and basically because we suspect somebody is a gang member, the problem with that, that starts getting pretty close to racial profiling, which we seem to have had a lot of problems with in this city. So I’m not about to support something that basically is going to get us in trouble in that direction …

What people need to understand is we work very closely with ICE. I’ve got great relationships with ICE from [Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff] on down. And ICE thinks the world of us. They think they get some of the best cooperation in the country from us. But they understand that we’re not going to initiate or will not participate when they do their round-ups at the various shops downtown. We’ll stand by in the event there’s a disturbance, but we don’t participate actively. There’s no need to; I don’t have the resources to.

And the irony in all of this in terms of what Zine is advocating, ICE doesn’t have the capacity to arrest and hold all these people that we could basically load up on them. They just don’t have it; they don’t have the cell space, they don’t have the capacity. Very frequently when we send in that we’ve got somebody, it’s up to them to say let him go or hold him for us.