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Mountain View police radios held hostage by fight over DOJ's immigration-related grant policy

Denver DA weighs in on lawsuit against DOJ
Posted at 10:56 PM, Jan 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 00:56:56-05

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Colo. -- The standoff between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and cities opposing his policy of giving preferential treatment, in the awarding of grants, to those that pledge to assist federal immigration enforcement, is affecting the Mountain View Police Department.

MVPD applied for a Justice Assistance Grant to purchase 13 new police radios.

Those radios are now on hold, while the Department of Justice evaluates which communities have "sanctuary" policies.

When asked whether the DOJ considers Mountain View a "sanctuary city," the Public Affairs office replied, "The distribution of grants has been delayed because of litigation and a nationwide injunction by one Federal District Court."

Some prosecutors say the DOJ's policy requiring jurisdictions to prioritize federal immigration enforcement over local public safety, dangerously impacts local communities.

Denver DA joins lawsuit

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann feels so strongly about the issue, that she filed a brief supporting the City of Los Angeles' lawsuit against Mr. Sessions and the Justice Department.

"Our law enforcement officers are working on local and state laws and keeping communities safe," McCann said. "When there is a policy that restricts their ability to do that, the whole community suffers."

The DA said it's wrong that a community like Mountain View has to wait for its police radios because of the new policy.

"Here's a small police department that needs to do their job, and they need the equipment to do it," she said, "and to hold the money up for law enforcement based on federal policy, I think that's wrong."

Last week, the City of Denver received a letter from the DOJ on this very issue.

The letter requests proof that the city is following federal law.

"We don't think the federal government should be treating cities this way," City Attorney Kristin Bronson told Denver7. "They are trying to coerce cities into doing the federal government's job.  We think it's unconstitutional the way in which they're going about it."

McCann said the federal government needs to focus on immigration and let local police departments focus on local priorities, or cases will fall through the cracks.

"There have already been some cases dismissed in the City Attorney's office because victims and witnesses of crime are afraid to show up," the DA said. "I think this kind of policy has a very detrimental affect on our ability to get the community to work with us, to help solve crime."

McCann adds there is also concern that criminals will prey more on the undocumented population, if that population is afraid to report anything.

She said she hopes the amicus brief will help the court determine that the DOJ's policy is "improper, legally."

McCann told Denver7 that her office gets a lot of money for victims services and to support the human trafficking and sex assault specialist.

"If the federal money is cut," she said, "that would leave us without the ability to be as aggressive in some of those areas as we'd like to be."