Council meets to discuss 287(g) Sheriff’s Office audit

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FREDERICK COUNTY, Md (WDVM) – The Frederick County Council met Wednesday evening to discuss the results of auditing the County Sheriff’s 287(g) program.

Almost a year ago, the Council issued a third-party audit to find out how much county funding and tax-payer money may have gone to the program.

The controversial program partners the Sheriff’s Office with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) and allows deputies to inquire about the immigration status of detained individuals.

Frederick County Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said the audit revealed the program cost the county a negligent amount of funds.

“There is an expense of about $8,995 a year related to the cost of the 287(g) program,” Harcum said. “To put that in context, that’s less than one tenth of 1% of the total budget for the adult detention center at any given year. The last year of this analysis, the budget for the adult detention center was $15.7 million.”

The overall cost of the audit was estimated to cost approximately $19 ,000 and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said the audit was a waste of time and county money.

“A total waste of taxpayer dollars in my view simply to appease small group of people,: Jenkins said. “Detractors who don’t like immigration enforcement, they don’t like the program and can’t accept the fact that it’s a very successful and highly effective public safety program.”

Council Member Jessica Fitzwater said she disagreed with Jenkins, saying the audit keeps the program accountable to the public.

“I think this audit, just as an audit of any other agency, department or function within the county government, is always OK to do,” Fitzwater said. “Especially in this sense when it’s not a county program, it wasn’t something we could easily see in the budget as we can with other county programs and it was very helpful to get the dollar amounts.”

The 287(g) program has come under fire for several years, accused of increasing the likelihood of racial profiling by police and diminishing the chances of undocumented immigrants choosing report crimes out of fear of being deported.

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