The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Sonoma County Sheriff Freitas on Local Immigration Enforcement

thumb_2_SoCo Sheriff Badge-600.jpg

Sonoma County Sheriff Freitas on Local Immigration Enforcement

February 22, 2017

Letter to Sonoma County Citizens:

There has been much talk recently in the news about immigration enforcement. I thought it would be a good time to re-state the Sheriff’s Office policies and practices regarding immigration enforcement and/or cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sheriff’s Office policy is clear that deputies are not allowed to ask anyone, on patrol or in the jail, about their immigration status. If you call the Sheriff’s Office for help, whether you are a victim, witness or suspect, you will not be asked about your immigration status. Additionally, our policy is clear that the Sheriff’s Office does not, and will not, conduct any enforcement of federal immigration violations. In fact, deputies do not have the legal authority to enforce federal law.

My main goal, and that of our deputies, is to keep you safe. The best way for us to do that is to have people feel comfortable enough to call for help or to report crimes. There is no danger related to any type of immigration status issues to anyone when calling the Sheriff’s Office. We are here to keep everyone in Sonoma County safe.

One of the many ways we work to keep you safe is to respond to requests from ICE regarding inmates in our jail. Everyone who is booked at the jail is fingerprinted. Those fingerprints are sent electronically to ICE. If ICE already has a person’s fingerprints on file due to a previous deportation or other crime they may notify us. They usually ask us to tell them when the person is going to be released from the jail. We make this notification in the interest of using any tool possible to keep criminals away from you and your families.

So far this year we have notified ICE about inmates in our jail 15 times. Two were for felony suspects, three were for domestic violence, one was for a weapons charge, four were for DUI, two were for felony DUI, one for a violation of probation, one for false identification/drug possession and one for assault and battery on another person.

Additionally, my deputies will cooperate with ICE agents if they are in Sonoma County looking for serious/violent criminals in the community. However, our policy is clear that my deputies working with ICE, and the ICE agents themselves, will not detain people solely for immigration violations while we are looking for the serious criminals. If ICE does not agree to these conditions then my deputies will not join them in the community.

I know there are some people in our community who want me to stop responding to ICE’s inquiries about anyone in the jail and to not cooperate with ICE in any way. While I am Sheriff we will cooperate with ICE regarding inmates in our jail and serious criminals on the street because my job is to do all I can to prevent crime from happening. My deputies and I will always do everything we can to keep you and your families, regardless of your citizenship or immigration status, from being victimized.

Steve Freitas, Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner



(in Spanish)

Ultimamente ha habido mucha conversación en las noticias sobre la aplicación de inmigración. Es buen tiempo de reafirmar las políticas de la oficina del Sheriff y los procedimientos sobre la aplicación de inmigración y/o cooperación con Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE). 

La política de la oficina del Sheriff es muy claro que los oficiales (los deputies) no se les permite preguntar a cualquier persona, en patrulla o en la cárcel, de su estado de inmigración. Si llaman al sheriff por ayuda, sean víctimas, testigo, o sospechoso, no se le pedirá su estado de inmigración. Además, nuestra política es claro que la oficina del Sheriff no hace y ni hará, cometer cualquier violaciones de delitos de inmigración. En realidad, los oficiales no tienen la autoridad legal de cometer los delitos de inmigración. 

La meta principal, y tambien los de los oficiales, es para mantener la seguridad de la comunidad. El modo mejor para que pueda hacer eso es cuando la gente se siente cómodo para llamar por ayuda o reportar un crimen. No hay ningún peligro relacionado con cualquier tipo de cuestiones acerca del estado de imigración a cualquier persona que necesita llamar a la oficina del Sheriff. Estamos aquí para mantener la seguridad de todos en el Condado de Sonoma. 

Unos de los modos en que trabajamos para mantener su seguridad es en responder a las solicitudes de ICE sobre presos en nuestras cárceles. Cada preso reservado se tomará las huellas. Esas huellas se mandan eloctonicamente a ICE. Si ICE ya tiene las huellas en el archivo debido a una deportación anterior o otro crimen, nos pueden notifcar. Muchas veces nos piden la fecha de liberación del preso de la cárcel. Hacemos esta notificacion en el interés de usar cualquier herimienta para proteger a Ustedes y sus familias. 

Hasta hoy hemos notificado a ICE de presos en nuestra cárcel quince veces. Dos fueron por sospechosos de delitos graves, tres por violencia doméstica, uno por una carga de armas, cuatro por DUI, uno por violacion de probacion, uno por identificacion falsa/posesion de drogas, y uno por lesiones contra otra persona. 

Además, mis oficiales van a cooperar con agentes de ICE si estan en el Condado de Sonoma buscando criminales graves/violentes en la comunidad. Pero, nuestra politica es claro que mis deputies, trabajando con los propios agentes de ICE no detendrá gente solamente por violaciones de inmigracion mientras estamos buscando a los criminales serios. Si ICE no estan de acuerdo con estas condiciones, entonces mis oficiales (deputies) no se unirán con ellos en la comunidad. 

Steve Freitas

Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner

OPEN LETTER to the Citizens Advisory Committee’ strong message to the Sheriff 


 The CAC’s action demanding that the Sheriff stop cooperating with federal immigration agents is absurd. He must obey the law when the feds have probable cause or a warrant of arrest. That is the law. And the U.S . Supreme Court stated that is the law enforcement standard for constitutional conduct by law enforcement.

The CAC is chasing a political agenda and not doing the work to improve relations with the Sheriff’s office.

The CAC claims it wants justice.  Justice is for everyone including the Sherriff and Law Enforcement in general who are required to insure that everyone obeys the law.

The CAC expects law enforcement to respect and follow the law and at the same time the CAC wants the Sheriff to ignore the laws the CAC does not agree with.  This is hypocritical and shows the true goals of the CAC to be a liberal drum beater not a real advisory group. 

The majority of the public does not want law enforcement to let known criminals released if customs has warrants or probable cause.  

No law enforcement officer or department in this county enforces immigration laws based on immigration status or ethnicity.  Law enforcement is so busy with other issues.

Regards, Joe Romano, JD
Retired Deputy Sheriff and Former CAC board member