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Politics

Hartford Cops Say ICE Agents Self-Identified As Police And Used City Station For Work

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This photo appeared on Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin's Facebook page. It shows two ICE agents waiting outside Hartford's Police Department.

Hartford city officials are criticizing the federal agency that's in charge of immigration enforcement because agents are referring to themselves as "police."

Hartford officers noticed two people standing in front of their headquarters on a Sunday morning earlier this month with jackets that read "police." An officer approached them and asked who they were, and, according to Hartford cops, the agents said they were with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

When police asked why they were meeting at the local police station, they say an agent told them that, "The 'P' word is much less scary than the 'I' word."

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said that when these agents call themselves police, and use a local police station to do their work, it hurts the trust that local cops have worked hard to build.

"The reason our police department cares about this," Bronin said at a press conference Monday, "is that it's important to them that individuals in our community -- regardless of the status of their documentation -- are comfortable sharing information about crimes, [and] are comfortable sharing information if they've witnessed or been a victim of a crime. This is about making sure we can keep this community safe."

Police said they didn't get the name of the woman ICE was investigating, but they were told she was being picked up in connection to a larceny, though it's unclear what role she may have played. Bronin said the ICE agents might have been justified in their pursuit of this person, but their methods should be clarified.

"Our police force is continuing to build that trust -- it's something that they take very seriously," Bronin said. "At the same time, we're going to ask ICE to not identify themselves in a way that is misleading -- that looks like they're local police officers operating out of the Hartford police headquarters."

An ICE spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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