AURORA, Colo. – Police Chief Nick Metz says he doesn’t want undocumented immigrants in Aurora to fear calling 911, or to fear talking to police.
The chief met with immigrants in a meeting space at the Aurora Highlands Shopping Center Wednesday night.
The community meeting was organized by Aurora’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs with assistance from Iglesia Un Nuevo Comienzo (the Church of New Beginnings.)
Chief Metz said he’s trying to calm fears in the immigrant community, not for political reasons or because of philosophical views, but for community safety.
He said he wants people to be able to call 911, without worrying that police are going to detain them.
He said Aurora police officers will not do ICE’s job, nor will they interfere with ICE.
“We wouldn’t ask immigration officers to enforce domestic violence laws,” he said. “They have their own job to do.”
He said if immigrants avoid calling 911, it will make it more difficult solve cases.
When asked what he would say to residents who believe that police should help ICE apprehend undocumented residents, Metz said, “I’d tell them, ‘imagine you’re in a serious accident, and the only person who can assist and call 911, is someone here without documents. Do you want them to sit there and debate, whether-or-not, they should assist you, for fear that they’re going to be detained, or do you want them to do what we would expect and hope that all the folks who live here would do, and that is call 911, provide the necessary information, and provide aid?’”
“We want the community to not be fearful of police,” said Rev. Christian Jimenez, “especially refugees from other countries.
Jimenez told Denver7 that many refugees fear police.
“They fear the police in their own countries, because they are the ones who kidnap, they are the ones who ask for bribes, Metz said. "And they should not have that fear of authoritie,s or police, here in the United States, especially in aurora.”
Jimenez said he’s aware that ICE is making arrests at the Denver Courthouse.
When asked what he tells immigrants who have gotten in trouble with the law, Jimenez said, “I tell them to go to court, because if they don’t, it’s going to make things worse.”
Metz said his advice to worried immigrants, is to make sure they don’t break the law.
"Don’t get a traffic ticket, don’t get involved in domestic violence, don't break the law,” he said.
Metz said if they do break the law, police will treat them the same way they treat everyone else.
“If they’re arrested,” he said, “they may be fingerprinted and then it’s out of our control.”
He said once fingerprints are in the system, ICE can use them.
Metz also said that if ICE officers are threatened by a suspect, who is being taken into custody, police will step in to help.
“It’s about safety,” he said.