SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Immigration and sanctuary cities - a couple of hot topics right now. So KCOY 12 spoke with the police chief of Santa Maria and the sheriff of San Luis Obispo County to get their take.
Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson are echoing the same feelings about undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.
"Well there's no question that immigration has got to have some sort of reform," Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin said.
"If we are going to deport violent offenders, we need to have a means of not letting them back in," San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said.
Chief Martin points to the spike in murders the city of Santa Maria saw in 2015 that spilled over into 2016.
"Where we had four times as many homicides and all the suspects that we arrested in Operation Matador were in the country illegally," Martin said.
Martin says Santa Maria is not a sanctuary city and has never been one despite a high latino population.
"So it's really not an issue for us in Santa Maria," Martin said.
Martin says he doesn't see local police being given the right to enforce immigration laws.
"I do agree with President Trump's vetting, I think for far too long we've been lenient in the Middle East and even in the Central American countries, we've got a significant number of criminal illegal aliens in our country," Martin said. "When we did Operation Matador, we had a lot of our victims that were in the country illegally, their families came up to us and thanked us for that."
In the city of San Luis Obispo, Mayor Heidi Harmon says she'd like to see the city become a sanctuary city and has been talking with local law-enforcement about the possibility - but Sheriff Parkinson says if the state restricts the sheriff's office from cooperating with the Federal Government, it'll impede them from being able to go after violent criminals.
"Well it's challenging because I think we have a hard time separating between people coming into this country to work and that are law abiding, other than being here illegally.. and people who are committing violent crime," Parkinson said. "If they are here illegally and committing violent crimes, I think the general population does not believe they should be out running around this country."
Chief Martin says they have a great relationship with the community and they want people to continue to come forward if they witness a crime or are a victim of one.