911 seeks 24-hour access to immigration records

Local law enforcement agencies are
moving toward a system that would allow police officers to retrieve an
individual’s immigration records via 911 at any time of the day or night.

The technology upgrade would also
let 911 Emergency Communications Centre operators perform a one-stop-shop
search of all databases kept by local law enforcement, if requested to do so.

911 Manager Brent Finster said,
with the exception of Immigration Department records, 911 call-takers can
perform such a search now. But it’s tedious and can eat up both call-takers’
time and the time of police officers out in the field.

“You’re not going to one database,”
Mr. Finster said. “You’re going to a whole bunch of them but you’re only
entering it once and then you can pick what you need.”

“It’s like doing a Google search,”
he said.

Graduating to a system that would
allow 911 operators to search police, customs, immigration, vehicle licensing,
bail records, firearms licensing records and other databases all at once will
require the installation of new technology. That will likely need to be the
subject of a bidding process, according to Portfolio of Internal and External
Affairs Deputy Chief Officer Eric Bush.

So the change isn’t happening
overnight.

However, Mr. Finster said he is
confident such an integrated system would both improve emergency communications
and officers’ safety on the streets.

Although the 911 centre does not
have access to immigration records now, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service
does. A spokesperson confirmed that police make requests to immigration through
the Joint Intelligence Unit.

However, that service is not
available 24 hours, seven days a week.

Mr. Finster said specific details
of continuous access to immigration records haven’t been worked out yet.

“I’m sure there’s certain
information that going to be available to us, but we will not be able to see
all the information,” he said. “We’ll probably be able to get immigration
status, work permit status, employer information and that’s about it.”

“It just makes sense. It’s funny
that we’re dealing with this now, because the United States has been dealing
with a similar thing with Arizona and local (immigration) enforcement.”

The issue in the US is somewhat
different since that country has different levels of local, state and federal
law enforcement.

In Cayman, police officers are
considered ex-officio immigration enforcement officers under the law, according
to Mr. Bush. Many US states and cities do not allow local law officers to
enforce immigration violations, which are considered a federal issue.

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