Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Hailey Leaders Champion Safe Communities
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Herbert Romero is among those who have stressed the need for a Safe Communities Resolution.
   
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
 

STORY BY LUIS ALBERTO LECANDA

PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

 The Hailey City Council voted unanimously Monday night to pass a Safe Communities Resolution.

 The resolution will allow police and court officials to focus on public safety rather than get tangled up in immigration enforcement, said Hailey City Council President Kaz Thea.

 “The Safe Communities Resolution is important to Hailey because it ensures local law enforcement is prioritizing keeping our entire community safe, and it ensures we are not subsidizing federal immigration law enforcement,” said Hailey City Council Member Sam Linnet. “Immigration law enforcement and policy is a federal civil law issue that should be left to federal authorities to carry out.

 “Our community is diverse and inclusive and we do not benefit from assisting ICE in often politically motivated law enforcement,” Linnet added. “This resolution is one step towards making sure that everyone in our town is welcome, treated equitably and protected from injustice.” 

 Blaine County Commission Chairman Jacob Greenberg said it is the responsibility of all elected officials to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the residents and visitors within their jurisdictions.

 “This includes assuring equal enforcement and protection under the law. The Safe Communities Resolution helps to do just that!” he said.

 The resolution has been described as a sign of atmospheric shift in the social climate.

 “It was a matter of time to pass a Safe Communities Resolution in the City of Hailey,” said Thea. “These past four years have brought fear and unrest. It's time for civility and respect and to restore trust and have more compassion for one another in our communities.”

 Patty Tobin, a documentary filmmaker and advocate who has worked with families left behind in cases of detainment and deportation, has seen first-hand the impact on the community.

 “Of the families that I have helped in detainment and deportation, it is often the head of household that is detained or deported, which leaves the rest of the family impoverished,” she said. “It becomes a race for survival on how they can pay rent, take care of their children, and, on top of all that, process the trauma of a lost loved one.”

 Others who have seen the impact of detainment and deportation say that the Safe Communities Resolution will bring a measured sigh of relief from constantly living in fear.

 “I feel that with time and other Wood River Valley jurisdictions adopting similar resolutions, there may be a trend for families to get more involved in school, parent-teacher conference meetings and volunteer work. And they will feel free to apply for new jobs, said Monica Carrillo, a federal government DACA recipient and Wood River High School alum. “There’ll be more normal behavior like those not living in fear enjoy while living in Hailey and Blaine County.”

 Sarah Sentilles, executive director of The Alliance of Idaho, said that the new Hailey resolution addresses the trust gap.

 “There is a trust gap in our community,” she said. “People are uncertain if it is safe to access community and public health services without risking deportation or affecting their citizenship applications. The more messages we can send to our community—to asylum seekers, to mixed status families--that eliminate the impact of not feeling like they can trust local police, the more they will trust other local organizations, too. With this resolution, we can begin establishing local trust, which consequently may help people access the services they need.” 

Herbert Romero, founder and chair of the Hispanic Latin US Taskforce, reflected on the symbolism of the passing of the Safe Communities Resolution: “It shows that the City of Hailey is taking a stand beyond just talk by seeing a need to adopt this. It recognizes that immigrant families are contributing to the community and are vital. Our elected leaders are making it known that our community and local government relationship is different so we may all feel protected and safe. To me, this shows the positive evolution of the community’s relationship with the city and police department--it’s more like a partnership.”

 Hailey Police Chief Steve England said that even though the Hailey Police Department already has a firm stance and policy against racial- and bias-based profiling, the department was pleased to give affirmation to the resolution, which was crafted to fit the city’s, police department’s and community’s needs and allow the police to carry out their respective duties within the law.

 “For the Hailey Police Department to be willing to put into policy and hold departmental training on inquiries into immigration status and/or documentation, and to set guidelines on federal immigration pertaining to civil enforcement is a step in the right direction. And it shows your local police is committed to working with outside entities to attempt to come to a successful conclusion on a variety of issues.  We look forward to continuing our ongoing partnerships with the community as a whole, and our hope is that maintaining an open dialogue and transparency will have a positive effect on bridging any gap there might be with members of our community and our police department.”   

 The Hailey Police Department has earned praise from local leaders for its inclusiveness and desire to seek ways to grow partnerships with the community.

 “It meant the world to our community when Police Chief England knelt with the (Black Lives Matter) protesters this summer,” said Sentilles. “It showed that he was in solidarity with the community, willing to kneel alongside us and for those who feel most vulnerable. It showed that he was willing to take a position against racism. It was really powerful to see. It was brave leadership. He didn't have to do that, yet it was a visible sign of solidarity, setting an example for the police force he leads.”

 Darrel Harris, social change director for The Advocates, concurred: Chief England has empathy and is a good leader in that he understands he serves all community members.”

 Romero said England has always sent at least one of his officers to events organized by the Latinx community.

 “And Chief England has even shown up at my events, shaking my hand. For our Hispanic community to see such a thing is huge. The Hailey Police Department has been very proactive and now it will continue to show the qualities of a community partner from him and his officers.” 

 Those backing the Hailey resolution say that it will be important to pass the resolution at the county level because so many Wood River Valley residents live in one part of the valley but work in another.

  “People will not know the difference between the vehicle decals of the Hailey Police Department and those of the Blaine County Sheriff or Bellevue Marshal,” said Blanca Romero, program manager at The Hunger Coalition.

 “It's time to introduce and pass this resolution throughout Blaine County, as well as in the State of Idaho,” added Thea. 

 


 

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