May 28, 2014 1:45 AM
TUCSON - The Pima County Sheriff's Department has a new policy in place when it comes to deputies entering places of worship to find suspects. This came on the heels of a News 4 Tucson Investigators report.
Back in late March, a deputy followed three Hondurans into a Catholic church in Ajo. Some observers thought the law had crossed the line in that instance.
One of them, Randy Mayer with the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, told us, "it does give me cause for concern because as I've understood it, law enforcement really walks very carefully around faith communities and religious establishments."
Captain Frank Duarte of the Pima County Sheriff's Department said, "we're no longer going to go into a church or school looking solely based on someone being an unauthorized immigrant."
He told us deputies will now be instructed as to where to draw the line on pursuing suspicious people who enter places of worship. "Our deputies are advised to look at the totality of a situation. If they see a suspect, certainly they'll look into what their business is in a certain area."
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson had expressed concern after learning about the Ajo incident. We told him about the sheriff's policy, and he said, "think what's important is not to profile with ill intent unless there's some reasonable cause for that."