LAPD Bypasses Federal Law to Allow DACA Officers to Possess Firearms

LAPD Bypasses Federal Law to Allow DACA Officers to Possess Firearms

A Los Angeles Police Department officer displays recovered guns from residents turning in firearms at a "Gun Buy Back" event in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Cece Woods

Cece Woods

12/20/2023

Updated: 12/20/2023

Commentary
The challenge to restore law enforcement personnel levels to the pre-pandemic, pre-defund-the-police era culminated in the passing of California Senate Bill 960, signed into law in September 2022, allowing non-citizens who are eligible to work in the U.S., including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, to become police officers.
The controversial new law took effect in California on Jan. 1, 2023.
Recently, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) took actionable steps to allow non-citizen DACA recipients who graduate from the academy and become sworn officers to carry a firearm full-time, which is prohibited by federal law.
Last week, Chief Michel Moore said the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners unanimously approved a new policy allowing DACA recipients to carry a firearm off duty, reported Fox News. An unnamed LAPD source said, “It’s a safety issue for them because they often work in the communities they police.”
While the new LAPD policy could take weeks or months to be finalized, many questions have arisen around the legalities of the new state law and its ability to override federal law. Under the new law, DACA police officers who are not legal citizens have the ability to detain and arrest U.S. citizens.
This complicated issue has many current and retired members of law enforcement debating whether it was thoroughly explored by lawmakers, and some have posed these important legal questions:
  • If a non-citizen DACA cop shoots a U.S. citizen off-duty, will the LAPD defend them in a civil rights lawsuit?
  • Will the officers have qualified immunity based on being LAPD officers?
  • How will LAPD defend the department when they are sued for a DACA officer-involved shooting when the only reason a DACA officer had a gun off-duty was through LAPD policy, not via federal approval?
According to Mr. Moore, LAPD has one DACA officer that recently graduated, and nine that are scheduled to graduate in the spring, reported Fox. So the number of beneficiaries of this new policy is still very low, for now.
“It’s clearly a political move in order to make some statement that they are hiring DACA kids to be police officers. Because realistically, they maybe have 30 applicants. The reality is that’s nothing with regards to recruitment. It’s purely a political move,” said retired LAPD Background Investigator Ken Roybal. “It’s just a liberal move on their part to make it look like they are hiring the people that their voters want.”
However, since Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass took office, she has called for adding hundreds of officers to the Los Angeles Police Department and boosted their pay with a new contract deal she struck with the union in an effort to recruit more officers.
LAPD sworn personnel has fallen under 9,000—hundreds of officers short of the 10,000 needed to properly service their jurisdiction.
According to Fox, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has six DACA recipients who have recently graduated and nine in training. However, it’s unclear whether the department has changed their policy to allow the DACA officers to be in possession of their weapons while they are off duty.
A Sheriff’s Department source, who requested anonymity, said, “How can those who are not citizens of this country be sworn to uphold the United States Constitution and the California Constitution? At a minimum, shouldn’t we insist they become Naturalized Citizens? At least then, we would know they would be fully committed to upholding the laws of the country and state. I guess that’s too much to ask for.”
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Cece Woods

Cece Woods

Author

Cece Woods is editor-in-chief of The Current Report. Ms. Woods also started The Local Malibu in 2014, and founded Malibu-based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag. She has reported extensively on hot topics such as the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, wildfires, and local public corruption.

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