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IMPD works to build trust between cops, undocumented immigrants

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Undocumented immigrants could be part of the solution to curbing crime in Indianapolis.

Many times they don’t report crimes, so Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department wants to build trust.

A lot of immigrants say they don’t report crimes because they fear questions about their immigration status, but police and the Marion County prosecutor want them to know that if they need help, they should report it.

“Every person, citizen or not, has the right to be safe, to be treated with respect,” said Randy Diaz, an IMPD immigrant outreach officer. Diaz says he wants to build trust with Latinos, which often starts at schools or groups and talking to students about his job.

“My hope is that the students go back and tell their parents and tell their family, ‘Hey, I met this officer. He gave me his information. He said if I needed help to contact him,’” Diaz said.

He says some undocumented immigrants won’t get swept up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for things like a minor traffic violation. “Murder, rape, child molestation — those types of things do get the attention of ICE. The minor things although we don’t want people to commit the minor crimes regardless of their status those are not things that get the attention,” Diaz said.

County Prosecutor Ryan Mears says that undocumented workers are at a higher risk of being exploited at work because of the threat of deportation. So, the prosecutor’s office is working with nonprofit organizations including La Plaza to let immigrants know they want to right that wrong. “Sometimes they do they are susceptible of being victims on cases and that’s why it’s so important that we do that direct outreach to the undocumented community to let them know that we are a friend and we want to be helpful on those types of issues so they go reported,” Mears said.

This is the third story in a series we’re calling “INside Story.” The rest of Camila’s stories looking into immigration and its effect on those who call Indiana home will air each evening this week on News 8.