LMPD adopts new policy on working with ICE

September 22, 2017

Police will only respond in case of warrant, when crime occurs, or when there is a clear public danger

Police Chief Steve Conrad and Mayor Greg Fischer announced today a new policy that outlines the city’s role in working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Under the new policy, whenever immigration officials call to request assistance from Metro Police, a commanding officer will handle the call, assess what level of help, if any, is appropriate, and join officers to the scene if they are dispatched.

Officers will be dispatched only in three instances:

  • when there is a criminal (not immigration status) warrant;
  • when crime has occurred or is occurring;
  • or in an emergency situation, when there is a clear public danger.

Police will not respond to requests to assist ICE in enforcing federal laws, such as knocking on doors to clear a house or apartment.

The policy comes after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a report that revealed 23 times during a six-month period when Louisville Metro Police officers responded after immigration officials called MetroSafe/911 seeking assistance. Those 23 calls were among about a total of 275,000 calls for service to LMPD in that period.

Mayor Fischer directed Chief Conrad to review those calls and confer with ICE officials on their process before creating this new policy.

The new policy, which was communicated to LMPD officers this morning, ensures an extra layer of scrutiny by a commanding officer and greater transparency in handling such calls.

Jody Meiman, director of Emergency Management Agency/MetroSafe, will train MetroSafe staff so they know to contact a commanding officer when someone from ICE calls MetroSafe/911. Further, the calls between the commanding officer and the ICE official will be recorded to ensure ultimate transparency.

“LMPD enforces local laws, and we leave federal enforcement to federal agencies,” said Chief Conrad. “When people need help, they need to know they can call on us to help them.”

Metro Police do have a duty to address crime at the local level, which means there will be times when police respond to assist immigration officials -- because the person they are looking for is also wanted on a criminal arrest warrant, or has committed a crime in Louisville, or is a threat to public safety.

“This policy is a positive step that will make it clear to our officers how they should handle requests for help from federal immigration authorities,” Mayor Fischer said. “The news report pointed out a gap in our policies, and the Chief acted quickly to address it.”

In addition to the policy, Metro Police released a video today aimed at easing fears that members of the immigrant community may have about local police enforcing immigration status. The video features several officers underscoring, in various languages, the Chief’s message that officers responding to calls for assistance do not ask about immigration status, and urging the public to call police when they need help  or have information about a crime. 

 To view the video, go to the LMPD Facebook page or Mayor Greg Fischer’s Facebook page.

“We are committed to our mission to protect and serve this community – this commitment extends to everyone who calls Louisville home, regardless of their immigration status,” Conrad said.