Purpose of initiative is to execute federal warrants quickly enough to prevent release of criminal illegal immigrants into the community
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight joined several Florida sheriffs on May 6 in signing an agreement to adopt the Warrant Service Officer Program in partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to aid in the continued removal of criminal undocumented immigrants from Florida jails, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has announced.
On May 6, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office became one of the first 10 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to sign into the Warrant Service Officer Agreement, a news release notes.
Led by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the Warrant Service Officer Agreement initiative has been structured “to authorize deputies who already work within the correctional setting to execute federal warrants in real-time so criminal illegal aliens cannot be released back into the community,” the release points out.
The Warrant Service Officer Agreement supplements the Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) that Sheriff Knight and 16 other Florida sheriffs signed in January 2018, which enables local jails to hold detainees for up to 48 hours when a federal warrant has been issued by ICE, the release says. The Warrant Service Officer Agreement takes the initiative a step further by giving local law enforcement agencies the capability of executing those federal warrants “before the detainee can make it outside the jail,” the release adds.
During a May 6 news conference, Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri said, “This is entirely about public safety and about law enforcement working together.”
Sheriff Knight agreed, the release continues. “This program equips deputies with the specific authorization to execute warrants on criminal illegal aliens who are already in our custody,” he emphasized. “My hope is that by executing federal warrants at the local level, we can really put a stop to criminal illegal aliens re-entering Sarasota County. Agreements like these take courage and collaboration and really speak to the partnership Florida sheriffs have with state and federal law enforcement,” Knight added in the release.
Since Knight took office in 2009, the Sheriff’s Office “has partnered with ICE to facilitate the removal of 545 criminal illegal aliens from the Sarasota County Jail, averaging more than 50 removals a year,” the release points out.