by Ann Jefferson
Following up on John Stewart’s guest column on 287(g) in the online News Sentinel of July 3, I would like to pose the question to Sheriff Jones: Why the urgency to deputize the Knox County Sheriff’s Office personnel to carry out federal responsibilities? As a citizen and taxpayer of the county I just can’t see the need for it.
I was one of a group of residents of Knox county who recently attempted to get some answers to troubling questions about the program 287(g) that, according to the ICE web site, has been approved for the county. Neither the sheriff nor his assistant was available to meet with us. Why is all this going on behind closed doors?
Could it be because the economics of the thing are not favorable? Although the sheriff says that this will save the county money, evidence from other areas of the country suggests that it has ended up costing money, sometimes hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
What was wrong with letting KCSO officers do their jobs and letting ICE agents do theirs? The application for the Memo of Agreement between ICE and the KCSO states “Our agency [i.e. the sheriff’s office] enjoys a great relationship with ICE officials in our area….” So why not leave it at that? Why is our sheriff the only one in Tennessee seeking this closer relationship with ICE? Why did Davidson County (Nashville) drop 287(g) after 5 years?
How does the sheriff expect to maintain good police-community relations when people know that local officers are authorized to act as ICE agents?
All these are questions the sheriff needs to answer.
A version of this letter was published by the News Sentinel on July 8.