LAPD Chief: Laws like Arizona's make crime-fighting tougher

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Los Angeles Chief of Police Charlie Beck, left, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey; and San Jose, California, Police Chief Robert Davis, listen as other police chiefs speak to the media outside the US Department of Justice, in Washington, DC, shortly after meeting with US Attorney Eric Holder May 26, 2010, regarding the new Arizona immigration law. The police chiefs feel the law will drive a wedge between the community and the police.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck visited Washington DC to talk about Arizona’s tough new immigration law. He joined police chiefs from around the nation who took their concerns to US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Beck said the primary job of police is to protect the public, not enforce immigration law. The chief said fighting crime is doomed to failure if laws like Arizona’s spread throughout the country. He added that law enforcement relies on witnesses to help solve crimes and testify in court.

"The fear of the police already inhibits immigrants from coming forward to a certain extent," he said. "But if you add this piece, then you increase that reluctance by tenfold."

Chief Beck said US Attorney General Eric Holder listened to his and other police chiefs’ concerns, but would not commit to filing a lawsuit to stop the Arizona law from taking effect this summer.

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