Gwinnett County’s new sheriff made good on a promise he made months ago and formally announced on Friday that his office is opting out of the controversial 287(g) program and disbanding its Rapid Response Team in the county’s jail.

Sheriff Keybo Taylor made the move to end the department’s participation in the 287(g) program and disband the response team on his first day in office.

“Gwinnett County, you spoke and I listened,” Taylor said. “We’re replacing these programs with a couple of initiatives that will address some problems that concerns our community.”

The initiatives that Taylor said will be rolled out are new programs aimed at tackling gang and human trafficking issues in Gwinnett County.

Chief Deputy Cleo Atwater said the human trafficking and child exploitation unit, which will be known as the TRACE Unit, will be tasked with ensuring there is a safe environment for children in the county. He pointed out that Gwinnett County is home to Georgia’s largest school district and said a key to making sure students in the district are successful in school is to ensure they are safe in the community.

“The TRACE Unit will seek out any predators with any intention on harming our children and we will bring them to justice,” Atwater said. “We have already begun working with federal, local and state agencies to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, the gang unit will, as its name suggests, focus on reducing gang-related crimes in the county.

“Fifty percent of the violence that occurs in Gwinnett County has some type of gang, criminal street gang nexus,” Atwater said. “It is either gang-on-gang violence, or it’s gang members in the commissioning of other crimes and felonious acts.

“We will further the fight against criminal street gang violence by the implementation of education, mentoring and enforcement.”

Atwater also talked about the launching of a new Support Operations Division in the Sheriff’s Office. It will include the office’s Community Affairs Section and work on some the educational programs aimed at steering children away from traffickers and gangs.

“In recent years, peace officers have been forced to reflect on how we deal with the public and how we interact with the citizens,” Atwater said. “The question that we continue to come to in this day in law enforcement (is), ‘Should we prepare deputies and law enforcement officers to earn high marks in customer service as we do with citizens, or do we train them to run directly into gun fire to save lives?’

“Well, I’m here to tell you Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office will do both, and we will do everything in the middle. We will meet that challenge. We have to roll up our sleeves, and in some cases take off the uniform and meet our citizens hand in hand. We have to be active partners, educating our youth on how not to be vulnerable to trafficking and how not to succumb to the dangers of criminal street gang violence or participating in those activities.”

The decision to end the office’s participation in the 287(g) program is no surprise since Taylor said in an interview shortly after his election that he would make that move on his first day in office.

It is expected to be a controversial move, however, because of heated debates that have taken place in the past in Gwinnett over the program. Opponents of the program have argued it sows distrust of law enforcement in immigrant communities, but supporters have argued it has made Gwinnett safer.

Under the program, the Gwinnett County Jail — which is run by the Sheriff’s Office — places a hold on inmates who are not U.S. citizens and notifies U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Officials to come pick up the inmates for likely deportation. Taylor said law enforcement agencies who arrest people and bring them to the jail can, on their own, check the immigration status of people they are arresting and report the to ICE if they wanted to.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, however, stopped doing that at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, according to the new sheriff.

Meanwhile, the office’s embattled Rapid Response Team, which worked in the jail, had been the subject of multiple lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Office because of tactics it used to handle inmates.

Taylor also said, with the Rapid Response Team no longer in place, deputies who work in the jail will receive training on how to handle emergency situations and resources will be put into addressing mental health issues.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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(21) comments

MissDaisy

Oh where to start. The Rule of Law: It's the law or its not. Change or repeal the law if you don't like it, but don't ignore it because you personally disagree with it. Illegally entering the country is a violation of the law. The first offense is a civil violation, but subsequent illegal entries are a crime. Shouldn't we fear consequences if we are violating the law, either civil, criminal, misdemeanor or felony? Fear of consequences is a deterrent. Immigration is a federal issue, but nothing wrong with cooperation between police agencies; but probably not longer an issue anyway with President Biden.

MarvinGardens

The right time to turn a criminal alien over to ICE is after they have been convicted of a felony and gone to prison for it. After they've served their time, deport them. Why was it ever OK to deport someone on a mere accusation (not conviction), possibly for a misdemeanor? Well, it wasn't OK, and Sheriff Taylor is putting a stop to it.

Globeheater

No, Sheriff Taylor is putting a stop to reporting them to ICE even if they are found innocent or if they have served time and been released. The right time to turn them over to ICE is when they are found to be here illegally...that’s a crime.

MarvinGardens

It's not a crime to be in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. It is a civil violation. See U.S. v. Arizona. That is why undocumented immigrants go before immigration court, which are civil courts, and have fewer rights than accused criminals.

Stephen Lykins

Yes it is, see Title 8 of the U.S. Code:

"Those who enter or reenter the United States without permission, however, can face criminal charges. Title 8 of the U.S. Code identifies federal criminal offenses pertaining to immigration and nationality, including the following two entry-related offenses: “Illegal Entry”/8 U.S.C"

U.S. v AZ did not change that. It merely struck down Arizona's law since it conflicted with Federal law..

Globeheater

Great..... A sheriff who shelters criminals from law enforcement. What could go wrong.....

MarvinGardens

It's possible that some criminals who were protected will now have to face law enforcement, because their accusers will no longer fear the cops.

Jag100

Buy more locks, buy more guns, get out while you can. GC is heading down the toilet.

Jim Taylor

Bottom line-- whether you are for or against 287g-- Sheriff Keybo Taylor kept his word and acted on Day One!

RetiredMCO

Well Gwinnett county this is what you wanted. A lawless sheriff who disband the 287g program. You and your fellow Democrats just made Gwinnett county less safe. And don't you dare have the audacity to cry and complain about crime from criminal illegal aliens. And to my friends who are deputies at the jail, you have my sympathies. Unless, You voted for this sheriff.

MarvinGardens

The other possibility is, he made the county more safe, because now fewer folks will fear dealing with the cops.

ModernHeritage

This is the right decision. This policy only serves in the interests of racists who believe that illegal aliens should be deported because they apparently are inherently dangerous and threaten their white communities. The truth is that illegal aliens are actually cause less crime than "native" communities, because there is a greater consequence if they are caught. This action will serve to make Gwinnett County safer by removing a racist and un-American policy of reporting detained aliens to ICE. This will make immigrant communities more likely to call the police in the case of an actual emergency without fear of being deported.

smatt65

Of course he did. He's a Democrat, and Democrats want this country run over by illegal immigration, ie California, just so they can sow a larger voter base to stay in power. Odd thing is, He won with just about all black American Gwinnecian support yet it is they themselves who suffer the most from illegal immigration. No one can make this stuff up.

MarvinGardens

No, Democrats want justice and fairness. We want the right thing. Immigrants should not fear dealing with the cops, regardless of their status. Someone gets taken to the jail on a misdemeanor accusation, and then gets ripped away from their family and their life? It's not right, and we're putting a stop to it.

Your political faction wraps themselves in the flag and act like they have a monopoly on all that is good and wholesome. Well, you don't. Quite the opposite, actually.

getoverit

AND, so it begins, good luck gwinnett, you will need it. or should I start calling you little dekalb, or little fulton county

MarvinGardens

You mean places with higher property values than Gwinnett? Or places where an immigrant doesn't have to fear the cops simply because of their immigration status?

getoverit

@marvin, I think you just like to hear yourself.......total Index Crime stats -dekalb 58,713, fulton 46, 750, Gwinnett 21,078....murders - dekalb 178, fulton 107, Gwinnett 35

JohnnyJ

People flocking to Dekalb County because of their great schools and parks. Illegals only need to fear cops if they break the law!

Peachie1

You Folks are so Funny! Gwinnett is already worse than the county's you name! The Commissioner just took bonds out to fund projects that the county can't afford! While the broke low preforming schools system that have been manipulation data since the doors open is 1 billion Bucks in debt! White folks can get away with Rigging they system.. Lol Wake Up

quarlesc

[censored] why would you write an article using the terminology “287(g)” numerous times, yet never tell what it is? What the heck is it, why is it controversial, etc? Without this, the article is useless.

Globeheater

It is in the article "Under the program, the Gwinnett County Jail — which is run by the Sheriff's Office — places a hold on inmates who are not U.S. citizens and notifies U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Officials to come pick up the inmates for likely deportation."

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