March 12, 2004

Editorial:

 Hispanics Want To Know, Is It Safe To Walk The Streets of National City

The National City Police Department and the residents of National City have a tenuous relationship at best. This point was driven home when the citizenship voted overwhelmingly to establish a police review board, not once but twice! This message did not fall on deaf ears. The Police Department has tried to bridge the cavernous relationship between itself and the citizens it is sworn to protect and serve.

Baby steps had been taken to create a more open and interactive relationship, that was until the National City Police Department (NCPD) proceeded with a secret, internal investigation into one of their officers turning over innocent individuals to the Border Patrol, while investigating a shoplifting call by JC Penny personnel.

In a city that is predominately Hispanic, Mexican, and Mexican-American, how the police department deals with this citizenry is an issue of paramount importance and one that needed to be addressed publicly. Recognizing this fact the National City, City Council requested the investigation and report into the NCPD’s policy in dealing with immigration issues. For the Hispanic community this was an abuse of power by the officer which threatened any Hispanic walking the streets of National City. This investigation took place, the NCPD has refused to turn over the report to city council stating it was confidential.

The NCPD was handed an opportunity to demonstrate its openness with community with this issues by openly investigating this incident. The community never requested disciplinary action against the officer. They were, primarily, seeking an understanding and a clearing of the air in regards to how the police department handled questions of legal and illegal status of Hispanics in National City and the community still doesn’t know!

National City Police Department is a department of National City, which is supposed to be run by the mayor and the National City, City Council and basically the police department is thumbing its nose at the city council, revealing the city council as powerless.

Police departments and officers uphold the laws that are established by society. Laws change all the time, what once used to be illegal could today be legal. We only have to look at abolition – when at one time it was illegal to drink alcohol.

National City, City Council needs to take a stand and make a statement to the citizens of National City and clearly outline the city’s stance on dealing with the question of when to call or not to call the Border Patrol. The residents want to know that they and their children are safe to walk the sidewalks of National City without the fear of being deported because they are not carrying proper, or any identification.

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