Spokane County's top law enforcement official, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, says he won't follow a new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee that bans local law enforcement from asking about someone’s immigration status unless it’s part of a criminal investigation. The new law is known as a "sanctuary" protection which prevents local law enforcement from complying with federal detainer requests to hold illegal aliens after (a) criminal warrant(s) has been obtained.
A defiant Sheriff Knezovich tells KREM 2, "I have news for the governor and the A.G. (Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson). We are not going to stop helping our federal partners enforce the law."
In a separate interview with KHQ TV News, Knezovich addressed the concern of the new law's supporters who say law enforcement officers could harass or badger people of color based on appearance to ask for immigration papers. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 29 years. I have never asked anybody for their immigration status. I have never heard of anyone asking about immigration status. The only time that ever comes up is if we’re playing the name game and we finally find that oh okay you are in the country illegally,” Sheriff Knezovich told KHQ’s, Peter Maxwell.
KVI's David Boze says "It's one of those controversies that's controversial in the media, not controversial in the public in general. I think there's going to be a loud segment that's gonna freak out about it because they're not paying attention to the context in which he speaks."
Boze continued, "Because he specifically makes the point that if people contact his office who suffered a crime who happened to be here illegally or have family members that are, they're not interested in tracking them down or using that information against them. They're interested in stopping criminal behavior. But, if someone is under arrest for criminal behavior, he's not going to not ask about their status if he thinks its relevant because he doesn't want to release (a) potentially dangerous person if they don't actually belong in his community anyway. And I don't think that's particularly controversial."
Click the image above to hear David Boze's coverage of Sheriff Knezovich's reaction to the new state law.