Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Costa Mesa Police Chief John D. Hensley

A few weeks back I wrote a post about Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor. The post was about how Mayor Mansoor was seeking to have Costa Mesa, California become the first city to enforce federal immigration laws at the local level.

This is a related post because the individual who would have been tasked with implementing Mayor Mansoor's controversial proposal has just decided to step down. Mayor Mansoor talks about his proposal here. The Chief of Police of Costa Mesa announced his decision via an email in which he stated that he and his wife, Jody, had made the decision after "much consideration and most importantly prayer."

The departure of Chief Hensley has led to speculation as to his real reason for stepping down. Hensley recently turned 50 and became eligible for retirement, he can now receive up to 90% of his salary during retirement. However, the timing of his retirement announcement and the fact that he has only held his for 3 years has led some to speculate that has chosen to step down rather than go through a difficult implementation of the narrowly approved measure that would call for the Costa Mesa police to ally itself with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau.

The measure has drawn both praise and criticism from groups on both sides of the issue concerning illegal immigration. The praise and an honorary membership has come from The Minuteman Project and harsh criticism including a call (recently rescinded) for an economic boycotts from pro-immigration group Hermandad Nacional Mexicana. The proposed measure has also drawn increased attendance to the Costa Mesa city council meetings and resulted in a few heated and angry exchanges from those in attendance and the city council members. The exchanges have often been directed at Mayor Mansoor and his allies, but angry exchanges have also been made by city council members, videos here and here.

Costa Mesa has a population of approximately 110,000 and a police force of 160. Police Chief John D. Hensley's departure has only added to the difficulties now faced by the city similar to those faced by our nation as it tests its own ambivalence to enforce laws that traditionally have fallen upon federal authorities.

From the Mercury News:

Police Capt. Ron Smith said Thursday that his department has tried to remain neutral in the controversy and had no choice but to follow the City Council's lead. He said about 30 out of 163 officers would receive the federal immigration training when the policy goes into effect.

Smith said he believed immigrants' fear came about because Mansoor had originally proposed a much broader policy that would have allowed police to check the immigration status of those arrested for less than an aggravated felony.

"Now nobody understands what's going on. What I'm trying to do is put the facts out there," he said. "My officers tell me ... there is tangible fear here."

The departure of Chief Hensley adds to Mayor Mansoor and the Costa Mesa city council's difficulties they have already faced in implementing the anti-immigration measure. The difficulties are further complicated by the fact that the mayoral and two council seats come up for re-election December 2006. Mayor Allan Mansoor has not indicated whether or not he will seek a second term. The November elections are likely to produce a number of hotly contested council seats along with that of the Mayor's. The new council and potentially new Mayor of Costa Mesa may decide that it is far easier to take the city in a different direction which removes it from the national spotlight and away from the controversy of illegal immigration.

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