Denver Police Union president: 'Sanctuary city' ordinance is contributing to opioid crisis

Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-15 09:10:22-05

DENVER -- The president of Denver’s Police Union is causing controversy after claiming the current opioid crisis in Denver is the result of officials passing a so-called "sanctuary city" ordinance last year. 

“This ordinance didn't help the citizens of Denver. It helped the criminal element staff,” Police Union President Nick Rodgers said of the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act, which was passed in August of 2017 to "protect the valuable contributions of immigrants and refugees" in the community.

Rodgers, a narcotics detective, said the bill is getting in the way of arresting dangerous drug criminals who, in turn, are contributing to the opioid epidemic.

“Prior to the ordinance, I worked with a couple of ICE agents here in town and we shared information. I gave them information and they gave me information," Rogers explained. "We were always looking for the same people committing crimes. We did a lot of really good quality street police work together."

On Thursday, Rogers will speak before a Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C., on how the ordinance is fueling the heroin problem in Denver. 

“My testimony is going to go backwards and talk about how heroin kind of came to be in the city of Denver," said Rogers, "and unfortunately, to my experience, most of the people selling heroin on the streets were illegal aliens."

The Denver Police Department, however, does not share Rogers' opinion. 

“That's not our experience, that's not what we are seeing in our crime data,” Deputy Chief Matt Murray told Denver7. 

Murray even goes on to say that Rogers doesn't understand how the ordinance works.

“It's just not true. He probably needs to go get retrained," Murray said. "He is absolutely able to communicate with federal agencies on criminal activity,” he added. 

The ordinance currently limits city employees from any civil enforcement of federal immigration laws.

It does not, however, prohibit officers from enforcing criminal laws.