Latino residents offer support for Agon
CARBONDALE, Colorado – The Carbondale Police Department received a surprise petition Tuesday signed by more than 160 members of the local Latino community in support of embattled police officer Alvaro Agon.
“I would like to greet you by way of this letter and also comment and put things in order as far as Mr. Agon,” reads a letter by local resident Reyna Nevarez accompanying the petition. The petition and letter were hand-delivered to Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling.
Agon is the local school resource officer assigned by the Carbondale Police Department, who has come under fire for his past work as a liaison with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of its anti-gang task force.
Immigrant rights groups have criticized that dual role held by Agon and other SROs working in the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, saying it has a chilling effect on immigrant students in local schools.
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) and the local student advocacy group Asociacion de Jovenes Unidos en Accion (AJUA) have alleged that Agon’s work crossed the line beyond investigating criminal activity into immigration enforcement.
The groups hosted a community forum last week where several members of the Latino community spoke out against the practice of SROs working with ICE.
They are requesting that the Re-1 school board adopt a policy prohibiting SROs, a program the district helps fund, from working directly with ICE.
However, the citizens petition and accompanying letter delivered to Schilling on Tuesday presents a different point of view about Agon from Latino residents.
“He has been a good element to the police department since he has been serving the people of Carbondale,” the letter continues.
“We are living with more security because he has been collaborating to end delinquency,” the letter says. “He is helping me and other people to continue to live peacefully. He is a person that one can trust and as an officer to us he is only doing his job.”
Schilling said the petition came as a complete surprise.
“Staff went through the signatures, counted them, and it was determined that we had received 165 signatures in support of Officer Alvaro Agon,” said Schilling, who has consistently stood behind his officer and says the allegations against him are false.
“These signatures were collected in a five-day period,” he said. “We thank the Latino community for their support and willingness to work hand-in-hand with our police department.”
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