Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn reinforced a message he made at the Unity Breakfast last week, saying that the Watertown Police will not be delving into people’s immigration status when they call the police.
The issue of undocumented immigrants has risen to the forefront after the Trump Administration announced it would seek to deport all illegal immigrants. Part of the policy announced Wednesday, the administration said they would deny federal funding for communities known as “Sanctuary Cities” which have vowed to protect undocumented immigrants.
Watertown is not a sanctuary city, but Lawn said during his entire 28-year-career on the WPD the department has never sought out immigrants to deport them.
“We are not changing the way we are dealing with (immigration enforcement). We aren’t asking people about that,” Lawn said. “If ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) has a warrant for someone that is a different story.”
Watertown has residents from a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds, Lawn noted.
“We encounter a variety of people, everyday and we treat them like we treat everyone else,” Lawn said.
Lawn said he worries that people will end up getting hurt if they are scared to call police for fear of being deported.
“It would jeopardize people’s safety if people are afraid to talk to the police,” Lawn said. “We want all residents to be comfortable to call, not be afraid that we’ll be checking their status. We will be coming to help them.”