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Council addresses ICE action

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At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept, 3, Village Council addressed the ongoing situation involving Miguel Espinosa, a local resident arrested by Yellow Springs police last week and later detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

For Council President Brian Housh, the situation highlighted the need to implement a 2018 Council resolution affirming the village as a “welcoming community” to all.

“We need to make sure we are delivering that in every policy, whether that’s the Village policies or the police department or the pool,” Housh said of the resolution.

“It’s really a powerful statement that we are committed to,” Housh added.

In part, that resolution directs Village police not to detain someone based solely on immigration status, prohibits the Village from discriminating against immigrants and says the Village shall “vigorously oppose any effort to require the use of local taxpayer resources for the enforcement of federal immigration policy.”

Addressing the YS police’s decision to take Espinosa to Greene County Jail for failing to stop at a stop sign and multiple license suspensions, several speakers referenced a local “policy” or “protocol” on the matter.

In a later phone call, YS Police Chief Brian Carlson said that the decision came down to officer discretion, not written department policy.

At the same time, due to Espinosa’s multiple past license suspensions and previous operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OVI, offense, the decision to take him to jail was standard procedure, Carlson explained.

“Once it’s a documented stop, I don’t think any other officer would think of addressing it any other way,” he said.

In the wake of the incident, however, the Village will be reviewing all of its policies,  Village Manager Josue Salmeron said.

“On our end, we are looking at what we can do with our protocols and guidelines,” Salmeron said, asking, “What can we do differently?”

Council members also suggested police participate in more role-playing and scenario-based training in situations involving immigrants.

While reviewing policy and planning trainings are in the Village’s future, much of the work happening now is focused on finding ways to help Espinosa, Salmeron said.

Those efforts are to figure out “how do we help a local resident who has deep roots in our community, runs a business, is raising a family in Yellow Springs” Salmeron said.

“He is a part of the vibrancy of Yellow Springs,” Salmeron added.

Also at the meeting, Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen wondered whether the incident in question “may have taken a different course” had Village police been aware of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office practices involving those suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

Salmeron also addressed the issue, stressing that the Village should be aware of Yellow Springs’ place in a comparatively  conservative county.

“We have to recognize that Yellow Springs is operating in a political climate that doesn’t represent Yellow Springs values,” he said.

Speaking from the floor, former Village Manger Laura Curliss argued that the situation could have been better handled by the Yellow Springs Mayor’s Court.

“Everything that can go to Mayor’s Court should go to Mayor’s Court, so the mayor decides,” she said.

Curliss added that in her view, the YS police’s decision to take Espinosa to jail was, in effect, a punishment.

“Even if it is some kind of nonviolent offense, we are giving police the discretion of who they can haul to jail,” Curliss said.

After several years of community discussion, Council approved a plan last fall requiring local police to send all misdemeanor cases to the Mayor’s Court, with a few exceptions.

The local Mayor’s Court policy does not address the issue of prior offenses. But this week, Chief Carlson pointed to a section of the Ohio Revised Code that states those with prior offenses — such as an OVI — within six years are not able to appear before a mayor’s court.

Other items from Council’s Sept. 3 meting will be in next week’s News.

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