LAPD: Deportation fears possibly affecting Hispanic crime reporting

New police statistics show major drops for rape, spousal abuse among Hispanics.

— -- The head of the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday warned of a "strong correlation" between dramatic drops in violent crimes being reported by Hispanics in Los Angeles and fears of being deported, suggesting that the community may be avoiding contact with local law enforcement in the wake of immigration polices favored by the Trump administration.

"Imagine your sister, your mother, not reporting a sexual assault for fear that their family will be torn apart," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters on Tuesday.

Police in California's largest cities have long warned of the difficulties of local officials enforcing federal immigration laws, partly because such enforcement could drive large immigrant populations into hiding and be fearful of reporting crimes, which could result in higher crime rates overall.

Speaking Tuesday, Beck said that immigrant populations should not have to fear the police.

"In L.A. we don't care what color your skin is, where your parents come from or what language you speak," he said. "We are your police department."

For its part, ICE has argued it uses "police" because it’s an internationally recognized term for law enforcement understood in any language.

The LAPD has long had a policy of not asking about the immigration status of individuals who come into contact with its officers.

On Tuesday, Garcetti signed an executive directive expanding that policy to Los Angeles Airport Police, Harbor Police and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

"We believe that many local families are keeping their kids home or backing off of engaging with our law enforcement officials and our public safety officials because they're afraid of what they believe could happen," said Garcetti.