Alabama officials announced Thursday that every sworn police officer in Alabama — all 16,000 of them — will go through four hours of mandatory training about how to enforce HB 56, the state’s draconian anti-immigrant law. The law has caused confusion across the state, said Alan Benefield, head of the Alabama Police Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, and ongoing legal challenges complicate the situation further. One of the first people arrested under the law turned out to be a legal immigrant, and two employees of foreign carmakers in the state have been arrested even though they were in the state legally.
The AP reviewed the training materials:
Training materials from the course, provided to The Associated Press by Benefield, emphasize that only the federal government has the power to determine whether someone is in the country legally, but that police agencies and administrators can be sued under the state law for failing to enforce either it or federal immigration statutes.
A course handout explains how officers should operate under the state statute — profiling based on race, color or national origin is barred — and says the law “does not authorize state, county and municipal agencies to seek out ‘illegals’ for deportation.”
Enforcement of the new law isn’t supposed to interfere with other police work. “This law doesn’t change the focus or priority of your agency,” the materials state.
The training will continue into January. Benefield told the AP that the training could not happen sooner because the commission had to sort through all of the court rulings regarding the law to understand what they were working with.
Greg Hardy, an executive assistant with the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, clarified that while most of the officers will start training in January, several thousand have already gone through the training, which began in November.