Boulder Won’t Let Firm With Immigration Ties Hire Off-Duty Police For Security

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Boulder and the Flatirons.

Another Colorado city is refusing to do business with a company partly due to its ties to immigration enforcement.

Boulder police told ankle monitor maker BI Incorporated Thursday that it will no longer allow off-duty police officers to be hired for extra security at the company's headquarters in the city.

BI Incorporated works with immigration authorities as well as court and prison systems to track people released or diverted from detention and is owned by GEO Group, which operates the detention center for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement in suburban Denver.

The decision, first reported by the Daily Camera , was prompted by objections from residents and citizens' groups to the city's contracts with GEO and CoreCivic or its subsidiaries, city spokesman Patrick von Keyserling said Friday. The city found it did not have any contracts with the businesses but that the police department had hired out police officers to provide additional security at its offices in July, under the same program that allows any organization or special event to use its own money to pay for added security, he said.

The move follows Denver's decision to cut ties with the halfway houses the companies operate. At least some of those who urged action said that Boulder would follow Denver's example, according to a sampling of emails received by city council. Some commenters mentioned concerns about the treatment of immigrants, including children, in detention but some also raised objections to companies that profit from holding detainees and faulted them for not having enough accountability.

BI spokesman Rich Coolidge said the move sets a dangerous precedent because he says it puts partisan political decisions above public safety.

"This politically motived decision tells our Boulder employees who develop technology and provide services that specifically keep people out of detention centers that they can be protected by local law enforcement, but only until they reach their jobs," he said.

While the city says BI will continue to get the same regular police services as any other location, Coolidge said the company has been unfairly excluded from a service that others are allowed to participate in.

People demonstrated outside BI in June to protest against the company making money from immigration policies, among other immigration issues.

Protest organizer Katie Farnan welcomed the city's decision. She told the Daily Camera that some immigrants monitored by BI's ankle bracelets feel humiliated by them and that she favors "community-based monitoring" instead.

"For-profit detention services are always going to be about profit, and no one, including the city and county of Boulder, should contract with them," she said.