Putnam Sheriff Joins “Secure Communities” Initiative

Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith today announced that his department has entered into an agreement with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS.) This initiative, dubbed “Secure Communities,” is a comprehensive program aimed at modernizing the criminal alien enforcement process.  It seeks to addresses challenges associated with accurately identifying and successfully removing criminal aliens from the country.

Those arrested may use aliases and furnish other false identification data, which can make it difficult to properly determine their immigration status. ICE Secure Communities program uses biometrics as a solution to this problem. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will be using new technology to collect suspected aliens’ fingerprints. The use of biometrics will help confirm a suspect’s identity because, unlike a name or date of birth, biometrics is almost impossible to forge. ICE will provide the computer technology to allow the Sheriffs Office to complete records checks to determine both the criminal and immigration status of those in custody.ICE staff will conduct record checks rapidly and communicate their findings within a few hours.

At a meeting recently held in Carmel, ICE commented favorably on the current protocols employed by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Existing policy requires that persons of questionable citizenship committed to the Putnam County Correctional Facility be immediately reported to ICE for investigation. The Secure Communities program will expedite this process. At the conclusion of the meeting, Sheriff Smith signed a formal agreement with ICE officials committing the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office to participation in the initiative.  In accordance with the agreement, the new technology will be installed and operational by the beginning of 2011.

In welcoming this new partnership, Sheriff Smith said, “Our seamless relationship with ICE has enabled the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office to report more than 500 criminal illegal aliens for appropriate action.  I am confident that by entering into this new initiative, Putnam County will ultimately be a safer place to live, work and raise a family.”

One thought on “Putnam Sheriff Joins “Secure Communities” Initiative

  1. This article makes no mention of how “persons of questionable citizenship committed to the Putnam County Correctional Facility” will end up there to begin with. Will the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department begin to profile people whom they suspect of “questionable citizenship”? It appears to me that the Sheriff’s Department has decided to become an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, something many other communities in this country have said they will not do.

    Are there criminals among the undocumented aliens in Putnam County? I’m sure there are, just as there are plenty of criminals among those who live here “legally”. But it’s one thing to arrest someone for a crime and then check his or her immigration status. It’s something altogether to go out and start looking for folks without documentation, which is what this sounds like to me.

    John Dunn
    Cold Spring, NY