After some further deliberation the Rye City Council unanimously voted in favor of allowing the city’s public safety commissioner to devise a new proposal for the purpose of immigration enforcement.
A plan that was put forward in April by Councilwoman Danielle Tagger-Epstein, a Democrat and chairwoman of the city Human Rights Commission, was tabled after it drew concern from the city’s Republican leadership.
But with newfound support from the council, Tagger-Epstein said Rye City Public Safety Commissioner Michael Corcoran will take the lead on developing another proposal that will be voted on in July. The public safety commissioner is expected to conduct a review of the Police Department and come up with a written policy that reflects both current practices of the department as well as some new ones geared toward immigrants.
Corcoran told the Review that although he supported the previous proposal, which he helped draft alongside Tagger-Epstein and members of the Human Rights Commission, there will definitely be differences in the new one.
“Ultimately, we want to set a policy that gives more guidance to our police officers,” Corcoran said. “This is an issue that’s gotten a lot of attention and I want to make sure there’s a sound policy.”
The public safety commissioner said he couldn’t reveal what’s expected to be different in the new proposal, but he did say that some additional time will allow him to do more research and confer with colleagues from the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association, which has membership affiliated with local police departments that already implement an immigration policy.
Some municipalities in Westchester County that have already implemented an immigration policy in recent months or are planning to introduce one include the villages of Mamaroneck, Irvington, Scarsdale, Larchmont and Tarrytown. Additionally, the cities of New Rochelle and White Plains, and the towns of Bedford and North Salem have vowed not to enforce federal immigration laws.
Irvington became one of the first municipalities to enact an immigration policy back in March after its village board unanimously voted for it.
Tagger-Epstein’s proposal would have prohibited police from questioning and interrogating individuals on the basis of one’s suspected immigration status.
The goal of the original proposal was to reassure immigrants living in the community that it’s safe to call emergency services without being questioned about their immigration status.
Another provision in the original proposal would have prohibited the Police Department from incarcerating individuals with an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request in their name unless they were charged with a felony or drunk driving.
According to Corcoran, who said the first proposal was written incorporating guidelines that were established by New Jersey’s attorney general in 2007, the new plan will still encourage nondiscriminatory practices within the Police Department.
Corcoran, who oversees operations for both the city’s police and fire departments, was hired away from the West Orange County Police Department in New Jersey at the beginning of 2016.
The idea of an immigration policy came in response to a nationwide effort that began in January to deport undocumented immigrants. Under the helm of President Donald Trump, as many as 17,000 people were deported by ICE just in his first full month as president, according to the federal agency.
The new idea to put Corcoran in charge hasn’t been met with opposition from Tony Piscionere, chairman of the city Republican Party who previously voiced his displeasure with the prior plan.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the new plan,” Piscionere said. “I think it’s great that Corcoran’s in charge of this. In principal, I just want to make sure we don’t have a policy of releasing criminals in society who will go out to commit more crimes.”
A vote on Corcoran’s plan is scheduled for July 12 during the City Council’s only meeting that month.