Glen Cove Chief of Police William Whitton in Glen Cove...

Glen Cove Chief of Police William Whitton in Glen Cove on Oct. 9, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton at Tuesday’s City Council meeting assured immigrants that rumors of federal immigration raids in the city are untrue and that police officers do not ask crime victims, witnesses or those arrested about their immigration status.

Whitton also said that in response to threats to Jewish community centers across the country, including in Oceanside and Plainview, police have stepped up patrols at synagogues, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, and local churches. There have been no threats against institutions in Glen Cove, but the department wants “to err on the side of caution,” he said.

Immigrants in the country illegally and living on Long Island have become more fearful because of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests nationwide and the Trump administration’s release last week of strict immigration enforcement plans, Newsday has reported.

Whitton said local police do not enforce federal immigration laws.

“We will never come up to you or to anybody in this community and ask if you’re here illegally,” Whitton said.

Deputy Police Chief Christopher Ortiz said the policy is a matter of public safety. Police don’t want residents to perceive that officers are acting as immigrant agents and are to be feared.

“We fully embrace community policing, and part of that is relying on the community to partner with you and help resolve some of the issues that are happening in their neighborhoods,” Ortiz said.

Although Glen Cove police do not inquire about the immigration status of the people they arrest, officers do take fingerprints of people arrested for some crimes — although not, for example, for most traffic offenses — and send them to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services for background checks. 

The state sends the prints to the FBI to check for records outside the state. The FBI then automatically sends the prints to ICE. 

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