Oakland, CA – The Oakland police chief has been accused of conducting immigration enforcement, contrary to that city’s “sanctuary city” policy, in connection with an ongoing human trafficking investigation.
The chair of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission, Brian Hofer, and seven other people, filed a complaint with Oakland's Citizens Police Review Board on Monday alleging that Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick made false statements about an immigration raid in August, according to KNTV.
The complaint accused Chief Kirkpatrick of making at least three false statements about an operation by Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in West Oakland on the morning of Aug. 16.
Two people were detained by Homeland Security agents during the Aug. 16 raid of a Guatemalan family’s home in West Oakland, according to The Mercury News.
Homeland Security officials, at the time, said agents served a search warrant at the home in connection with a human-trafficking investigation involving children.
Chief Kirkpatrick has maintained the Oakland Police Department (OPD) only provided traffic control for the operation.
"Because safety is HSI's chief concern during operations, our special agents regularly request assistance from local law enforcement personnel to provide support for officer and public safety. Local law enforcement is best suited for this, as they have an established relationship with the community and knowledge regarding local traffic patterns and other logistical considerations,” said Ryan Spradlin, the special agent in charge for HSI's San Francisco office, in a written statement released Oct. 6.
During a Sept. 6 town hall meeting hosted by Councilmember Abel Guillen, Chief Kirkpatrick was questioned by members of the public about whether Oakland Police’s assistance during the raid violated Oakland's sanctuary city policy, which bars the city from helping to enforce federal civil immigration law, the East Bay Express reported.
"The federal partners do not have to tell us when they're coming into our jurisdiction. It's a courtesy," Chief Kirkpatrick responded. "But they said they were coming to Oakland to execute an arrest warrant pertaining to probable cause for human trafficking."
She chose to provide officers only to block off the streets while federal agents conducted the search and arrest, she said.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stood behind her police chief.
In a written statement issued Wednesday evening, Schaaf said she has met with Chief Kirkpatrick and the federal agents involved, and has not “seen anything that calls into question the chief’s truthfulness or integrity.
“After thorough discussions and review of the documents, I remain convinced this operation was, and is, an ongoing criminal investigation aimed at preventing human trafficking in our city,” Schaaf said.
“I have great respect for the investigative process and understand it needs to run its course,” the mayor said.
Oakland police officials will address city council members regarding the allegations at a Nov. 14 Public Safety Committee meeting.