A Virginia police officer was placed on leave after violating department policy when he reported a driver at the scene of an accident to federal immigration authorities.
The Fairfax County police officer, who was not identified, ran a check on the driver's Department of Motor Vehicles record after he saw the person did not have a Virginia Operator’s license, according to a statement from Chief Edwin Roessler. The check revealed that the driver had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency warrant for failure to appear for a deportation hearing.
The officer detained the driver, alerted the ICE agent on the warrant, and turned that person over to the agency's custody.
"As a matter of full transparency to our community – our police officer violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable," Roessler said. "We have been informed by ICE that the driver was released after three hours and issued an ankle monitor."
The chief's statement did not mention the name or gender of the driver.
Roessler cited a 2007 arrest procedure that bars notifying ICE of an immigrant who has an outstanding warrant of removal if they aren't being held for a violation of the law. The driver was issued a summons for driving without an operator's license but was not arrested on a criminal charge.
"Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE," Roessler said. "This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents."
An ICE spokeswoman said the agency "maintains that its partnerships with law enforcement agencies are essential to maintaining public safety; however, defers comment on this personnel issue to the Fairfax County Police Department.”