The Latin American Coalition is raising concerns about how Charlotte Mecklenburg Police handle checkpoints and interact with immigrants. Chief Rodney Monroe is planning to attend a community forum to address any concerns.
This comes down to trust. Some people in East Charlotte who speak only Spanish said they do trust the police. One woman said she doesn't fear the police because she has all the documents she needs to live here. But that's the key, the Latin American Coalition says CMPD has to tell immigrants they want to protect them not deport them.
Police checkpoints could be considered a nuisance but for people living near Rosehaven Drive and Central Avenue, but a checkpoint in April was much more.
"You see the checkpoint a lot of people run or leave the car because maybe police ask me for my driver's license, I don't have driver's license. You know people are scared," said Omar Luis who moved to the United States sixteen years ago.
The Latin American Coalition which is just down the road says they have been speaking with CMPD since April about that fear.
"They're afraid to call the police whenever there's a crime or someone they know got mugged or their house got broken into," said Armando Bellmas of the Latin American Coalition, "They don't want to call the police because that might put their ability to stay in this country even if they are here undocumented in jeopardy."
Checkpoints happen all over the city, sometimes officers are looking for seatbelt violations or DWIs. Bellmas says checkpoints in this neighborhood could lead to a deportation.
"If any of these people were stopped and then they found out that they didn't have a driver's license that they would be taken downtown, arrested and possibly put into deportation proceedings."
Bellmas said local law enforcement is not immigration enforcement.
"We want to find a way to work with them to build that trust at the same time not turn them into deportation agents," said Bellmas.
That is why they put together a community forum with CMPD and Charlotte's Immigrant and Latino community.
Omar Luis said what would help him trust the police is to know officers are looking for criminals not people without papers.
"You need to explain to the people so the people know," said Luis.
Wednesday's forum starts at 6 o'clock at the Independence Regional Library. CMPD says Chief Rodney Monroe will be there to answer questions. And the Latin American Coalition says the chief has told them he wants his department out of the immigration enforcement business.
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