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Racial profiling fears fire people up at SB 1070 forum

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Racial profiling fears fire people up at SB 1070 forum

CREATED Sep. 25, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep. 26, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor isn't happy with SB 1070, but the law is the law and it's his job to enforce it. On Tuesday night, Villasenor fielded questions from Tucsonans concerned about how the law will be enforced.

Tammy Jaksha told 9OYS she lives in fear.

"It's every day," she said. "I have a not so brand new car. It's got a tail light missing, I live in fear that I will get pulled over in some dark place and who knows what will happen."

Jaksha is one of many who attended the community forum hosted by Tucson City Council member Regina Romero and a collection of faith-based community members. They wanted to know how TPD will avoid racially profiling the Hispanic community. They are tough questions even Tucson's police officers are asking.

"There's some questions from the officers that have come forward, what we do in this circumstance or what we do in that," Villasenor said. "But I'm very proud of them and I think they'll be able to work through this."

Since Judge Susan Bolton gave the green light to the "papers please" provision of the immigration law, Villasenor has repeatedly stated that he trusts his officers. He's asking the community to do the same.

9OYS asked Jaksha if she trusts TPD to enforce SB 1070 constitutionally.

"No, I do not," Jaksha said. "There are criminals that really are criminals. And the police need to be there instead of acting as immigration agents."

Councilwoman Romero told 9OYS forums like this are critical. It's a chance for TPD to ease the hearts and minds of skeptics -- the very people they will encounter as they patrol Tucson's streets.

"The first step in that is to address the climate of fear that exists in this community since SB 1070," said Pastor Stuart Taylor.

The Chief told KGUN9 his officers have received several hours of instruction on SB 1070. TPD also created an officer wiki page with answers to frequently asked questions on the law. He said that if officers do racially profile, the department will take immediate action.

The city plans to host more community forums on SB 1070 in the future.

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