Sideline critic Karl Bickel continues his misguided attacks and criticism of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office’s partnership with ICE known as the 287(g) program (As I See It: It is time to put public safety before politics, Aug. 7). The jailbased program, operating solely within the detention center, identifies “criminal aliens,” defined as anyone not born in the United States who is subject to deportation due to a criminal action or activity. This program has everything to do with crime and public safety by not releasing removable criminals back onto our streets in Frederick County.
For his own political purposes, he won’t admit that it is a very effective program and will be even more important in the future. Bickel has been out of law enforcement, working as a government bureaucrat, since the then-sheriff fired him from this agency in 1994. During my 15 years as sheriff, Bickel has found it easy to throw rocks and cast opinions from the cheap seats, but really has no real message or idea of what he’s talking about.
I can well defend and justify my position on the program. The FCSO has partnered with DHS/ICE on the 287(g) program since 2008, and it has been very effective in identifying and removing criminal aliens for deportation. There have been 1,753 detainers placed on criminals, with 1,585 of those detainees served and placed in the custody of ICE for deportation. That number includes 113 criminal gang members, mostly MS-13, and 43 individuals, identified as unaccompanied juveniles that were either validated gang members or had committed serious felonies. The crimes committed by the 1,585 criminal aliens have included various degrees of murder, aggravated and first-degree assault, domestic assault, rape, sexual assault of women and children, drug distribution, trafficking, and robbery. One important note is that ICE makes the decision on detainer holds and removals and the FCSO has no direct involvement or influence.
The results of the 2019 audit of the FCSO 287(g) program proved that the cost to the county is minuscule in comparison to other criminal enforcement and detention initiatives. The actual cost of $107,940 over 12 years is about six-tenths of one percent of the entire detention center budget — a real public safety bargain in removing 1,585 criminals from our streets.
My obligation in upholding the law, and main concern as the sheriff, is to keep Frederick County citizens safe and protected from all crime, including threats of increased serious violent crime, drug trafficking, transnational gangs, and the other criminal elements that are flowing in through our southern borders. The criminals entering our country illegally don’t remain in the border counties of America, but infiltrate the entire country including the state of Maryland.
His column mentioned nationwide concerns about increases in locally centered violent crimes. The fact is, Frederick County has experienced seven consecutive years of decreased numbers in serious Part 1 crime categories under the FBI Uniform Crime Index. This is surely, in part, a direct result of the 287(g) program. The recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing have largely failed. The cities and jurisdictions opposed to enforcement of immigration laws and governed by Democrats have seen the largest increases in violent crimes and lawlessness.
The “professional leaders” heading the organizations named in Bickel’s column that oppose immigration enforcement are retired police chiefs and the so-called experts living in academia that are politically driven. Their views and decisions align with liberal ideology, and Democrat politics that have proven dangerous to America.
I did travel to the border in Cochise County, Arizona, while at a recent National Sheriff’s Conference in Phoenix. What I was able to bring back is a very clear picture of the truth about how bad the situation has really become at the border under the Biden administration, and exactly what we can expect. We, America and the criminal justice system, need to prepare for the transnational gangs, increasing volume of dangerous illegal drugs, violent criminals, and chaos coming our way. We should be enforcing the immigration laws as written to protect Americans. Frederick County is and will be a safer community because of the 287(g) program, regardless of what Karl Bickel “thinks.”
As I see it
Chuck Jenkins, Frederick County Sheriff