OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – While the Oakland Police Department has come under fire from some City Council members who wants police to stop helping federal ICE agents, a new poll indicates many residents don’t agree with that idea when it comes to dangerous criminals.
In an exclusive KPIX 5 Survey USA poll, we asked: Should Oakland police assist federal authorities in cases involving undocumented immigrants who are suspects in violent crimes?
An overwhelming 62 percent of respondents said they should assist. Only 21 percent of those polled think police should not help.
The current debate over the police department’s cooperation with federal immigration touches on the politics of the Trump administration, public relations with minority communities as well as the question of public safety.
The issue of police participation in ICE enforcement activities surfaced after criticism surrounding an August 12 ICE raid when Oakland officers helped handle traffic during a federal raid on suspected human traffickers.
The controversy has left new Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in a Catch-22.
“I have the responsibility to provide public safety,” said Kirkpatrick.
But city officials are maintaining that the police should not get involved due to Oaklands sanctuary city policies.
“It’s really important that Oakland not be played as a patsy,” said Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.
Chief Kirkpatrick still defended the OPD involvement in the August 12 raid on Wednesday.
“They asked if we could provide traffic support to help keep the scene safe,” said Kirkpatrick.
To date, no criminal charges have been filed in connection with that raid, but a person was held for being in the country illegally.
“There was much public outcry. We need our community to feel safe and to know that we are not part of Trump’s deportation force,” said Kaplan.
So now the council is moving to ban any and all cooperation with ICE — even when it comes to criminal investigations.
That change is something Councilman Noel Gallo says may be going too far.
We are a Sanctuary City, but when there is some organized major criminal activity and we need support from the federal level. I’m fine with that, said Gallo. The reality is in Oakland on our streets there are some major gang activity.
The opposing sides on the issue are leaving Oakland Police Department leaders at a loss.
When asked if the policy could affect public safety, Kirkpatrick replied, It could, but at this time, it is the issue of the will of this community to say that they do not want any form of participation.
She continued: “It is a difficult question. My number one mandate is public safety. And so when safety is at risk my office and vow is protect this community.”
However, if Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City Council insist that police not cooperate with ice, the chiefs hands may be tied.
“I serve this community through the voice of our City Council, and if it is the will of our City Council that there is no ability to cooperate, that will be honored,” said Kirkpatrick.