Alan Gomez, USA TODAY2:56 p.m. EDT March 21, 2015
(Photo: George Walker IV, The (Nashville) Tennessean)
Law enforcement agencies struggling to fill their ranks or connect with their increasingly diverse populations are turning to immigrants to fill the gap.
Most agencies in the country require officers or deputies to be U.S. citizens, but some are allowing immigrants who are legally in the country to wear the badge. From Hawaii to Vermont, agencies are allowing green-card holders and legal immigrants with work permits to join their ranks.
At a time when 25,000 non-U.S. citizens are serving in the U.S. military, some feel it's time for more police and sheriff departments to do the same. That's why the Nashville Police Department is joining other departments to push the state legislature to change a law that bars non-citizens from becoming law enforcement officers.
Department spokesman Don Aaron said they want immigrants who have been honorably discharged from the military to be eligible for service.
"Persons who have given of themselves in the service to this country potentially have much to offer Tennesseans," he said. "We feel that ... would benefit both the country and this city."
Current rules vary across departments.
Some, like the Chicago and Hawaii police departments, allow any immigrant with a work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to become an officer. That means people in the country on temporary visas or are applying for green cards can join.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Justin Mullins said the department usually struggles to fill trooper positions in less populous corners of the state, including patrol sectors high up in the mountains. He said immigrants from Canada, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Central America who are willing to live in those remote places have helped the agency fill those vacancies.
"People that want to live there and build a family there and work there is a little more difficult to find," Mullins said. "People moving from out of state, or out of the country, if they're willing to work in these areas, then that's great for us."
Other agencies, like the Cincinnati Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, require that officers at least have a pending citizenship application on file with the federal government. And others, like the Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., police departments, require that officers be legal permanent residents, or green-card holders.
With more immigrants moving to places far from the southern border or away from traditional immigrant magnets like New York City or Miami, agency leaders say it's important to have a more diverse police force to communicate with those immigrants and understand their culture. Bruce Bovat, deputy chief of operations in Burlington, said their immigrant officers help the agency be more "reflective of the community we serve."
JUST WHAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NEED: WETBACKS AND MUSLIMS , AS COPS !!!!!!!!.......MORE PROOF OF THE UTTER DETERIORATION/DESTRUCTION OF A "FORMER GREAT COUNTRY" !!!!!!...BETWEEN THIS AND THE UTTER AND COMPLETE CORRUPTION OF OUR GOV'T......IT IS A GOOD TIME TO MOVE OUT OF AMERICA !!!!!!......THIS COUNTRY IS IN THE TOILET !!!!!!!!!
Who do you think built America?...Wake up!
The ones that came legally , not the ones here illegally are the ones that built America . You need to go back and read up on your history
It certainly wasn't illegal aliens, numwad.
It sure as hell wasn't muslims.
legal immigrants who assimilated to become a nation, idiot!!!!!!
Guess you would like to give a little credit to Hitler and FDR too, after all WWII did a lot to make the 'rich' a little richer. But then, it made lot of the 'poor' a little 'richer' too.
Who built America? mostly the honest people. Where are you in that?
Or maybe you should just go back to sleep.
Where exactly would you move to? And why move? That is surrender. We will not surrender.
At least some of us won't.
Are they going to be racists? This is a very important question that no one brings up. Hispanics and Asians as a rule do not relate to the typical African American denizen of the black communities. How will that work?
Spot on Oren! As usual you hit the nail on the head.
Because we have a muslim, illegal alien in the white house with all his little muslim minions.
BOY I WOULD LOVE TO MEET U
RIGHT AS USUAL