Gascon was one of two police chiefs to speak in an afternoon conference call set up
by the Center for American Progress. Today's media event came one day after news that calls the San Francisco Police Department's own position on enforcing federal immigration laws into question: Police discovered that a
Salvadorean national pulled over at a routine traffic stop last month in the Ingleside District had a federal immigration warrant. They arrested the driver -- but before even arriving at the county jail, immigration officials had
already informed the sheriff's department they wanted the suspect. It is unclear who tipped off the feds.
Gascon didn't mention this episode. But what he did
say implied that this kind of instance degrades cops' ability
to fight crime. When he was the police chief in Mesa, his
department focused on not profiling race, but criminal behavior. As a
result, people with shaky immigration status could trust that, for example, reporting the drug dealer
down the street wouldn't get them deported. The crime rate dropped 30
percent in his three-year tenure.
The chief says SB 1070 will instead make good officers go bad: "It's going to
be extremely difficult for police to follow without breaking the
law. ...You're going to be pushed into using race as a predictor of bad
behavior rather than a descriptor of a criminal event. So I think