LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) - Two state lawmakers who are retired police officers are co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit sanctuary cities in Kentucky.
Sen. Danny Carroll, a former Paducah Assistant Police Chief and Rep. John Blanton of Salyersville, a retired Kentucky State Police major, will carry the bill in their respective chambers, prohibiting local governments from enacting sanctuary policies that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
During a press conference at the Fraternal Order of Police Headquarters in Lexington, Gov. Matt Bevin said the draft legislation has three purposes.
“What is the definition of sanctuary? Given that definition, what is not going to be allowed, and reaffirming the fact that legislators are the ones who make this policy for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Carroll said this measure is important for the cooperation and exchange of information between local and federal law enforcement.
“Any law or any ordinance or anything that a local entity might do that would limit that cooperation in any way, is detrimental to the safety of our people,” Carroll said. “As a state legislature, I think it is imperative that we take steps to clarify what the rules are.”
The legislation would help law enforcement, according to Blanton. “This is to prevent some policies that may be placed by elected officials that ties their hands. It makes it unsafe for the officers and it makes it unsafe for the general public.”
Blanton added, “This bill does not laser target anyone.”
Bevin said it was a matter of communication and collaboration among federal, state and local police is essential. “We must never allow petty politics to jeopardize the safety of our law enforcement personnel or the tools they need to serve and protect our communities.
“This is getting out in front of something before it becomes an issue in our state.”
John Holiday, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, said law enforcement operates within limited resources.
“We’ve got to give them every tool that they have, in order to protect the public. As director of Homeland Security, I have seen first-hand how this coordination works and how it protects public safety. Coordination between local, federal and state entities is a must. It’s a lesson learned from 9/11.”
Ten states have already enacted legislation banning local sanctuary polices, according to the governor’s office: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an additional 21 states, now including Kentucky, have proposed similar legislation.
Congressman Andy Barr, R-Ky., applauded the proposed legislation, saying it is the right action to take.
"As a federal lawmaker, I believe federal laws should be enforced. Local governments should not be in the business of picking and choosing which laws to obey and which laws to ignore. Doing so would set a dangerous precedent," he said. "Additionally, any local government that fails to cooperate with federal law enforcement risks being designated a sanctuary city and losing access to federal resources. I appreciate Gov. Bevin and other state leaders who, with this announcement, have recognized that local politics should never supersede public safety.”