(CNSNews.com) -- Democrats on the Charlotte, North Carolina City Council have asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to “cut back” on enforcement of drunk-driving laws in neighborhoods with large illegal immigrant populations, because illegal immigrants apparently are “nervous to see the cops.”
“We start tonight with pressure on Charlotte police to cut illegal immigrants a break when it comes to speeding and drunk driving,” reported Mike Garrison of WBT Radio on Feb. 12.
“Democrats on city council are asking the cops to cut back on traffic checkpoints and drunk-driving enforcement in neighborhoods where illegals live,” said Garrison. “The reason? It makes illegal immigrants nervous to see the cops.”
At a Charlotte City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, the CMPD asked the city council to approve a routine grant for enforcement of traffic checkpoints. Council member Braxton Winston (D), however, grilled CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes, asking him why CMPD carried out drunk-driving enforcement operations last week on Charlotte’s Central Avenue while Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers were conducting a raid in the same area.
In the week of Feb. 3, ICE arrested more than 200 illegal immigrants living in North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Winston asked Estes to avoid conducting operations at the same times and places as operations by other law enforcement agencies, and to be mindful of illegal immigrants’ “sensitive situation” by avoiding their neighborhoods.
“It’s something that eroded the – it continues to erode the trust within our immigrant communities that are highly concentrated right in that area, on Central and Eastway,” said Winston.
Winston, an activist who rose to prominence after protesting a 2016 police shooting, was elected in November 2017 to the Charlotte City Council, which is comprised of 10 Democrats and two Republicans.
The CMPD denied any prior knowledge of the ICE arrests, and explained that its traffic safety and sobriety checkpoints are placed around the city based on accident data. Locations for the checkpoints are determined six to 12 months in advance. If a location has a higher incidence of motor-vehicle infractions or drunk driving-related crashes, it might receive more police attention.
Estes also explained that last week’s operation on Central Avenue was a saturation patrol, in which multiple police cars are brought to an area. The basis for the patrol was an alcohol-related fatal crash in the area a week earlier, and, according to Estes, the patrol had nothing to do with the area’s large illegal immigrant population.
“Every checkpoint we do is with the motoring public’s safety in mind, nothing to do with any other type of enforcement,” Estes said.
At the City Council meeting, council member Edmund Driggs (R) said Winston’s “dark insinuation” was “disrespectful” to the CMPD, whose job is to keep roads safe.
“I think the idea that there was some sort of collusion with anybody else is just disrespectful to our police department,” Driggs said.
“This has been politicized and distorted in a way that undermines the ability of CMPD to do their mission,” Driggs continued. “Their basic mission is to ensure public safety.”
“This is a no-win situation here, and the logic is utterly twisted,” he concluded.
After a heated discussion, the council voted to approve the grant.
The contentious meeting came the same day as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) criticized President Donald Trump for calling illegal immigrants who drive while drunk “criminal.”