South County mayors, police chiefs plan meeting to discuss immigration worries

Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Greg Wilson
Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Greg Wilson

With President-elect Donald Trump promising to be tougher on immigration and deport criminal immigrants, mayors and police chiefs from the cities of Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Edmonds will be meeting soon to discuss community concerns about how Trump’s stance could impact local police agencies’ approach immigration enforcement.

The meeting is being organized by Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith, and stemmed from a phone call that Lynnwood Communications and Public Affairs Manager Julie Moore received last week from a teacher at Alderwood Middle School. “She stated that her students were so scared about what was to happen to their family and their friends that they weren’t able to focus on school, and she wanted to know what the city was going to do,” Moore said.

As a result of that call, Smith began talking with Edmonds School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy and Edmonds Community College President Jean Hernandez about the issue. The Lynnwood mayor extended her outreach further, and “is now working to organize all of the South County mayors together, asking them to bring their police chiefs, so that we can have a comprehensive South County discussion,” Moore said.

“Mayor Smith feels that it is vital that we all come together and have a thoughtful approach to address the community uncertainty and concern,” Moore added. The hope is to schedule the meeting in early December, and ways to involve the community are currently being discussed, she said.

Meanwhile, police chiefs from both Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace said they don’t have any plans to shift their cities’ stance on immigration enforcement in light of Trump’s remarks.

“We are not planning to change how we do business because of an election,” said Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan. “That’s how we are going to be a long as I’m here.”

“We’ve never sought out people because of their race, religion or ethnicity and we’re not going to start now,” Compaan added.

Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Greg Wilson said that his officers “do not engage in law enforcement activities solely based on someone’s immigration status. Our job is to work with our community to address local law enforcement concerns; not immigration and customs enforcement.”

“The mission of the Mountlake Terrace Police Department is to serve our community with professionalism and integrity, support the Constitution, laws and core values as set forth by our citizens, and defend the individual rights, human dignity and quality of life for all who live, visit and work within Mountlake Terrace. I have no intention of changing the way we serve our citizens,” Wilson added.

— By Teresa Wippel

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