GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - It was an issue Democrat Keybo Taylor campaigned on and within just hours of taking office on January 1, he ended the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office's relationship with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program.
"As the sheriff of Gwinnett County, today is the official ending to our office's participation in the 287(g) program with ICE," Sheriff Taylor said during a news conference Friday morning.
The controversial program gave sheriff's deputies the authority to hold illegal immigrants in jail for ICE whenever they were arrested for crimes in Gwinnett County. The county had been part of the initiative since 2009.
"I saw that program as a [discriminatory] program," explained Sheriff Taylor. "Just like any other tool in law enforcement, they're put in place to do good, and then sometimes people abuse it and they will use if for something else. That is what I actually saw and feel like that the 287(g) program unfairly targets and it is a very discriminating program toward people of color."
Sheriff Taylor also announced the end of the Rapid Response Team, which handled incidents inside the Gwinnett County Jail. The team had been the subject of investigations by the FOX 5 I-Team and the target of lawsuits alleging excessive force.
"Basically, what we'll do is we'll train the deputies that are on shift how to respond. We're also going to take a stronger look and put more initiatives toward de-escalation," said Sheriff Taylor. "We're also going to take a stronger look at mental health and put some of those initiatives in place. So, that if we can identify someone coming into the jail beforehand before we even get them out in the population, if there's something that may trigger that person or whatever, we want to know about it and we want to be able to address those issues upfront."
The sheriff's office also plans to start a gang initiative and a trafficking and child exploitation unit.
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