Deputies Lobby SF Sheriff for|Rework of ‘Sanctuary City’ Rules

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco sheriff’s deputies this week lodged a formal complaint against their boss, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, over his policy on immigrant detainees in the wake of a 32-year-old woman’s murder in San Francisco earlier this month.
     “The department’s refusal to coordinate, much less cooperate, with federal law enforcement agencies recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens, and those who merely come to visit the San Francisco area,” the July 13 letter states.
     The formal grievance comes on the heels of a national debate over San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city, ignited after an undocumented immigrant with a long criminal record was released from jail before allegedly murdering Kathryn Steinle near a pier on July 1.
     As a sanctuary city, local authorities are not obligated to turn over undocumented immigrants charged with nonviolent crimes to federal immigration officials.
     Recent controversial remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump characterizing Mexican immigrants as criminals have also added fuel to the fire.
     While the deputy sheriffs union blames Mirkarimi for releasing Steinle’s accused killer and allowing the tragedy to occur, Mirkarimi has responded by labeling the union’s grievance and motives as “a political posturing” during an election year.
     In their formal grievance, the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association says the department’s policy for handling immigrant detainees was “unilaterally implemented” without discussing the changes at its monthly labor-management meetings.
     “The sheriff’s policy has been rejected by every level of government and the [Deputy Sheriffs Association] and despite that, Mirkarimi remains steadfast in adhering to his own misguided agenda,” said Eugene Cerbone, president of the SFDSA.
     The union’s attorney, Peter Hoffman of Rains Lucia Stern of San Francisco, demanded the department immediately rescind its directives on immigrant detainees and comply with its contractual obligations to confer in good faith with the union before implementing any changes.
     “Any changes the department might pursue should honor Ms. Steinle’s life by correcting the department’s flawed philosophy so that people of San Francisco – citizens, visitors and employees alike – are safer in the future,” the letter stated.
     Hoffman added the sheriff should at the very least “personally sign off on every unnecessary release of a criminal who could jeopardize public safety so our deputies don’t have to watch his embarrassing evasion of responsibility for wholly preventable tragedies.”
     In response, the department released a statement saying the policy on immigrant detainees did not constitute a change in working conditions and therefore did not require a meeting or conference with the union.
     “It did not violate the Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA) contract and is not a grievable matter,” the department stated. “This is political posturing in an election year. It is the kind of thing that has been done in the past by the DSA to oppose former Sheriff Michael Hennessey.”

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