FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia police officer who was suspended after he turned over a driver wanted by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will return to full duty on Friday, the local police chief said.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said he made the decision after receiving an update from the internal affairs bureau and reviewing the department’s procedural policy recommendation. He previously said the officer “violated” the department’s policy.
“We have one of the best police forces in the US and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career,” Roessler said. An internal administrative investigation remains ongoing, he said.
That investigation was launched after the officer realized one of the drivers involved in a September 21 traffic accident did not have a state driver’s license, Roessler said Tuesday.
When the officer looked up the driver’s information, he found the individual was wanted by ICE on a warrant for failing to show up to a deportation hearing, the police chief said.
The officer contacted ICE, detained the driver, and then turned custody over to the ICE agent who responded to the scene.
The driver was released after three hours and given an ankle monitor, Roessler said, citing ICE.
The police department has banned officers from taking people into custody based only on an immigration law violation since 2007, Roessler’s initial statement said.
Officers receive training that “reinforces to our personnel that we do not enforce nor detain for administrative warrants and we have no authority to enforce federal law,” Roessler said.
Other jurisdictions across the country have similar policies that limit cooperation between local governments and police forces with federal immigration authorities. Critics like President Donald Trump say those rules endanger public safety, but supporters say they foster trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
On Tuesday, Roessler said the officer “violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable.”
“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that (Fairfax County Police Department) is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE,” he said.