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As Long as We Remember...

June 30, 2008

A NAC for Social Progress

Steven R. Berryman

Last Thursday The Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) Area 5 meeting for the residents surrounding the West End of Frederick, known as the “Golden Mile, headlined an appearance by the sheriff of Frederick County, “Chuck” Jenkins.


The opportunity allowed for a much needed airing of tensions.


Sheriff Jenkins was riding a publicity-high from the notoriety of his recent graduation from the New Sheriff's Institute, an advanced executive leadership program. The main source of his local distinction, however, is that he is the only sheriff in Maryland currently supporting the federal 287(g) program in conjunction with our Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.


Under 287(g) everyone arrested in Frederick County is screened at the Frederick County Detention Center for the legality of his or her presence in the United States. This method of filtration allows for the complete continuity of regulations against profiling, as every single person gets checked out through comparison with federal data bases containing official records.


That said, there are still many in the Hispanic community who are concerned. Their fear seems to be justified, but is easily mitigated when the rules of the program are fully explained, as was the purpose of this meeting.


Those still fearful after the programs’ explanation usually have reason to be so. This is also the deterrent element of policing, a force multiplier. The program has become a divisive lightning rod locally, with residents lining up on both sides.


Count Maryland taxpayer-funded CASA de Maryland (Center America Solidarity Association) on the side of all immigrants. Not only do they “look the other way” on the legality issue, but they publish bilingual literature on how to avoid detection by ICE, and what to do in the event of a raid. The answer: Don’t cooperate, and “no comprende, senor.”


The sheriff was joined by Kim Dine, the chief of the City of Frederick’s police department, who is the sheriff’s co-responsible policing partner. Currently, most of the 69 detainees in the Frederick County jail awaiting possible deportation for breaking laws are “collars” made by Dine’s men in the city.


Due process here means that all undocumented detainees appear before a magistrate. Exceptions to deportations may be made on a discretionary basis for humanitarian reasons, among others.


The differences in the constituencies of these two fine officers of the law at least partially accounts for their varied approaches to the job, with Sheriff Jenkins elected and Chief Dine appointed. The sheriff is the activist, and the chief is the pragmatist.


What they share is a common goal of making all of us safer. They also share the Frederick County Adult Detention Center for incarcerations. As we are a “nation of laws,” they put the teeth into it.


The creation of fear by policemen in the community was a common complaint echoing in the Holiday Inn meeting room for NAC 5. My take is that perpetrators of crime and their enablers suffer the most fear, and that’s part of the officers’ job.


Our police have a “necessarily frictional” relationship with their community as a deterrent as a function of what they do. And without the respect, it doesn’t work.


I attended this meeting on behalf of Help Save Maryland, as I am the coordinator for Frederick County. My purpose was to support the sheriff, learn and report. Some of what I witnessed was ugly.


After several CASA members complained about racial profiling and harassment by city police, a man known as “Woodchuck,” who calls in regularly to Bob Miller’s Morning News Express on WFMD-AM, raised his hand. A Caucasian, he stated to the audience of over 80 for the record that he had never been harassed or hassled by police or deputies himself.


This was immediately followed by an out-of-order comment made loudly between two NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons) members saying: “Has he looked at the color of his skin?” This was followed by nervous laughter.


Not much of a promotional opportunity for them…


I asked the sheriff what the ratio was of compliments to complaints on his 287(g) program, in order to get a sense of the problems as stated by select meeting participants. The answer was “100 to 1 in favor.” And I personally know that this man spends much of his day answering to his deputies and constituents issues.


Sheriff Jenkins told the crowd that his mentor in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, has had the same program in place since May 2006, and has deported more than 3,500 illegals. The sheriff’s stated purpose is to not allow Maryland to get so far into trouble without making efforts to stem the illegal immigration tide, exacerbated by the easy Maryland drivers’ license acquisition.


He also said that MS-13 gang membership is calculated and documented to be made up of 50 percent illegal immigrants. His justification for 287(g) – as applied here – is that future crime can be avoided in Frederick County, in order to preserve it as a great destination in which to live.


By his own admission, the other Maryland sheriffs are sitting on the sidelines, watching closely to see how it works out here. Too bad for them. Some of this has to do with the election this year, along with some liberal social engineering.


I applaud the NAC 5 producers and participants, as this summer climate provides a “no pain, no gain” lesson in seeking social progress and hopefully forcing some politicians to get into the game.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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