Jacksonville Police Department Getting Tough On Illegal Immigrants

Local gangs have left their marks all over town, but it was a random shooting in a Tyler Street front yard in January that police say was the final straw.

Now, the Jacksonville Police Department is reporting any criminal they believe is in this country illegally.

Assistant Chief John Page says, "We've had about 30 detainers placed on people, and we've probably called them somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 times total.  We're pretty confident. We don't want to waste their time. We don't want to waste our time."

It's a practice many in this community feel should have started a long time ago.

Odell Hinton says, "I think it's outstanding. If you're here illegally, what part of illegal don't you understand? If they're illegal, they need to be deported."

Robert Crossman says, "The federal law is there, and it should have been enforced by the Feds. If they're not going to enforce it, then we can help them enforce it."

The department says when it comes to youth gang members in this country illegally, they try to talk with parent before contacting the authorities.

"We've run into situations where the parent has said, 'I can't control my child.' Well, if that's the situation, that's fine. If you can't control your child, and you're in this country illegally, then you can take your child and go back to where you're from and not control them there," says Page.

The department hopes their tough policy will not make illegal immigrants who are victims or witnesses to a crime reluctant to report it.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com