Matthew Christopher Harris, a former lecturer at UCLA, was arrested on February 1 in Boulder, Colorado, after posting an 800-page manifesto threatening violence in California and Colorado. Police in both states, along with federal law enforcement agencies apparently took Harris’ threats to be very serious, with the possibility of mass casualties.
A relieved Boulder Police Chief, Maris Herold, spoke to reporters after her department executed Harris’ arrest. “I can’t state this more strongly: The importance of having collaboration at the federal, state and local levels is critical to the swift resolution of this incident this morning,” Chief Herold said.
Hooray for interdepartmental cooperation! But, wait a minute: Isn’t Boulder a sanctuary city? Back in 2017, the Boulder City Council could not state their unwillingness to engage in collaborative law enforcement efforts with federal immigration enforcement agencies more strongly when they unanimously approved an ordinance declaring the city a sanctuary jurisdiction.
What if Harris had been an illegal alien, rather than a disgruntled ex-faculty member at UCLA (located in the heart of another defiantly sanctuary city and state)? Would the situation have been resolved with Harris being walked away in handcuffs before dozens of innocent people were carried away in body bags?
Chief Herold and hundreds of other police chiefs, along with thousands of city council people, county supervisors and state legislators, can’t have it both ways. Either “collaboration at the federal, state and local levels is critical” to averting tragedies and saving lives, or it isn’t. When the phone rings at Boulder police headquarters asking for assistance, it shouldn’t matter if it is the LAPD, the FBI, or ICE at the other end. They’re calling for a reason. And, as we have seen from countless incidents in which people have paid the ultimate price when law enforcement agencies refuse to cooperate with ICE, the answer should be, “How can we help you?” not “Go away.”