Last week, a video surfaced of a Metro Transit officer asking a male passenger if he’s “here illegally.” Now the Metro Transit police chief says the passenger is scheduled for deportation and the officer involved no longer works there.
The video sparked a lot of controversy because – as Police Chief John Harrington said last week – Metro Transit officers aren't supposed to ask about anyone's immigration status. It's not their job.
In an update Saturday, Harrington explained the passenger had been taken to the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center on May 14 – the day the video was recorded – for fare evasion. Authorities said they didn't reference his immigration status in police reports or contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the passenger was released.
Then on Friday, Metro Transit learned the passenger was taken into ICE custody on May 16 – two days after the incident and three days before the video was posted to Facebook.
Metro Transit's new policy
Metro Transit started investigating the incident as soon as the video surfaced. Since then, the officer involved has been removed from the job, and Metro Transit has updated its policy regarding immigration status.
It now explicitly says officers will “ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to all persons regardless of their immigration status.”
The police chief noted he's working on posting the Metro Transit Police Department's manual online so everyone can see it.
"We strongly value our relationship with all of the communities we serve and fully understand the importance of our riders’ need to feel confident that they can interact with our officers without fear," Harrington explained. "The image of a single officer’s questioning immigration status is not reflective of, nor does it represent, the practices and procedures of Metro Transit officers."