News by VICE

The Virginia Police Officer Who Turned an Immigrant in a Car Accident Over to ICE Is Back on the Job

The county police chief said he was suspended just days earlier.

by Gaby Del Valle
Oct 4 2019, 4:50pm

A Virginia police officer who was briefly suspended after calling ICE on an undocumented immigrant who has just been in a car accident is back on the job.

The officer arrived at the scene of an accident on September 21 and discovered one of the people involved didn’t have a Virginia driver’s license, according to Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. The officer ran a check on that person’s DMV record, found out he had an open immigration warrant, and contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The officer, who has not been named, detained the driver until an ICE agent arrived.

Roessler put the officer on leave, saying in a statement released Tuesday that he “violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable.” But just one day later, Roessler released a statement saying the department had decided to reinstate the officer.

“We have one of the best police forces in the U.S. and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career,” Roessler said in the statement. “Our internal administrative investigation continues as prescribed by policy.”

Friday was the officer’s first day back on the job. When contacted for comment, the Fairfax County Police Department referred VICE News to Roessler’s published statement.

Fairfax County police have been prohibited from holding people who aren’t already in its custody for ICE since 2007, according to Roessler’s statement. Police departments and sheriffs offices across the country have similarly limited their cooperation with ICE in recent years, and several local law enforcement offices are currently debating over whether they should do the same.

ICE released the driver with an ankle monitor after three hours, Roessler’s statement also said.

Cover: In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo, an immigrant who entered the United States illegally is checked before boarding a deportation flight to El Salvador by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)