"I trust my officers": TPD chief reacts to "papers please?" provision

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"I trust my officers": TPD chief reacts to "papers please?" provision

CREATED Sep 6, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police officers now have one more thing to worry about. The "show me your papers" provision compels them to ask for your papers if they suspect you're an illegal immigrant.

9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor if that makes life more difficult for his officers. He replied, "The potential is there because people are so sensitized to this. It will make it more difficult for interactions with people."

Villaseñor tells 9OYS it opens the door to accusations of racial profiling against his officers, but he says he's confident it'll be just that accusations.

"I want to be very clear I don't think it will increase racial profiling on my officers, because I trust my officers," Villaseñor said.

TPD officers are SB1070 trained. The department has made sure they'll know how to respond, but Villaseñor says the law does set them up for attacks from all sides.

"We are opening up ourselves to lawsuits on both sides of the issue, but time will tell," Villaseñor said.

TPD says it will enforce the law professionally and with integrity. He knows it's a sensitive issue for all Tucsonans, but he's asking the community to trust his department can handle this provision.

"I'm confident because I've worked in this agency for 32 years," Villaseñor said. "I know their [my officers] capabilities. We hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard."

That standard will be tested in the coming weeks. TPD plans to hold several community forums to ensure everyone knows what's going on.

Enforcement is expected to begin 10 to 30 days from now.