A Northern Virginia police officer was put on leave after authorities say he violated policy by alerting federal immigration authorities he was detaining a driver who missed his deportation hearing.
Since 2007, Fairfax County Police policy bars officers from alerting the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they encounter someone wanted on administrative immigration violation, provided that the individual is not otherwise being taken into custody.
Chief Edwin Roessler issued a statement Tuesday saying one of his officers responded to a Sept. 21 traffic crash and learned one person involved was wanted by ICE on an administrative warrant for failure to appear at a deportation hearing.
That person was given a summons for driving without a license, a violation in Fairfax County. Then, the officer kept the individual in custody before turning them over to an ICE agent.
Roessler says ICE fit the driver with an ankle monitor and released them after about three hours.
"This matter damages our reputation," Roessler said in a statement.
The officer was put on administrative leave with pay and underwent remedial training, the police department told News4. He is expected to return to work on Friday, then the department will complete its internal investigation.
It's not the first time that a D.C.-area police officer was accused of erroneously cooperating with ICE. In July, Prince George's County, Maryland, police clarified their policy after finding that officers wrongfully referred immigrants to the agency.
Chief Hank Stawinski said that some officers mistook administrative warrants for criminal warrants.
Correction (Oct. 2, 2019, 1:33 p.m.): The Associated Press reported the officer was suspended. This story has been updated to reflect that the officer was put on administrative leave with pay.