Policing Policy Clarification from Montpelier Police Department Chief Tony Facos

MONTPELIER — Here are the following facts related to Montpelier Police Department’s Fair and Impartial Policing Policy modifications:

Although the Department of Homeland Security Boston Division did list Montpelier, the only Vermont jurisdiction listed, as a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” we were far from the only city and town in Vermont with policing policies that fit that definition.

As police chief, I have not received any communication from anyone from Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice regarding our policies or our sanctuary city status.

On February 22, several Vermont police chiefs and I met with Department Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson to discuss the state mandated Fair and Impartial Policing policy elements (Title 20 VSA 2366), sanctuary jurisdictions, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions concerns, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations and related federal laws (8 USC 1644, 8 USC 1373, 19 USC 1401, 8 USC 1355).

On March 2, 2017, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued a 15 page report “Guidance to Vermont Cities and Towns Regarding Immigration Enforcement.” This report, along with Montpelier Police Department policies, and state and federal laws were discussed internally with City Manager William Fraser and Mayor John Hollar.

In March, I had several discussions with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s staff about sanctuary jurisdictions since Montpelier appeared on the Department of Homeland Security list. Sen. Leahy was watching this issue closely.

On March 28, 2017, Gov. Phil Scott signed S. 79: An act relating to freedom from compulsory collection of personal information into law. (Had I not changed Montpelier Police Department’s policy, the enactment of S.79 would have superseded the older language that I had removed.) Mayor Hollar and I were both present at this bill signing. It was the enactment of this legislation that ultimately required Montpelier Police Department to modify our policy in order to comport with both federal and state law.

I have attached the key documents that underpin Montpelier Police Department’s current Fair and Impartial Policing Policy. It is also important to note that my comments made before the Montpelier City Council are still as true today as they were then. In order to provide effective policing to any community in the United States, trust and legitimacy are paramount. Victims need to feel safe in coming to the Montpelier Police Department when they need help. Responding to those victims, regardless of their civil immigration status, is our duty.

Sent to The Bridge by Montpelier Police Chief Tony Facos.

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