Fairfax County police officer suspended for alerting ICE after traffic stop

A Fairfax County police officer has been suspended after authorities say he violated policy by alerting federal immigration authorities he was detaining a driver who missed his deportation hearing.

The officer encountered the man when he responded to a car accident at the corner of Harrison Lane and South King’s Highway.

The officer became aware of ICE’s warrant once he checked DMV records and discovered that the driver didn’t have a license. While searching the driving record, he received a notification that the driver was wanted by ICE for a civil, administrative hearing for failing to report to a deportation hearing.

When he found out that ICE was looking for the driver, the officer kept him at the scene.

Since 2007, Fairfax County Police policy bars officers from alerting the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they encounter someone wanted on administrative immigration violation, provided that the individual is not otherwise being taken into custody.

Chief Edwin Roessler issued a statement Tuesday saying one of his officers temporarily detained an individual involved in a Sept. 21 traffic accident and who had no driver's license after learning he was wanted by ICE.

Roessler says ICE released the driver after fitting him with an ankle monitor, and the officer has been relieved of law enforcement duties while an investigation is conducted.

“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE. This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents. The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation. It is my role as the leader of this police force to enforce our FCPD – and Fairfax County – policies and hold all accountable for their actions,” Roessler said in the statement.

According to police, this is the first time their policy has been violated since 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.