METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - As the national debate continues on how to handle illegal immigration, a local police chief is reaching out to his community to calm some fears.
Metropolis Police Chief Harry Masse makes it very clear: unless instructed by the federal government, his department has no plans to do any illegal immigrant searches.
"We got bigger things to do, we got more important things to do!" Masse said.
As questions continue to rise about how the federal government handles illegal immigrants, Chief Masse says some residents are asking him what it means for them.
"The fact that they ask me that and they were comfortable enough to ask me that, I felt good about it," he said. "I don't want our little town to end up like the big cities."
To clear any confusion, the chief took his message to the Metropolis Police Department's Facebook page.
In the post, the chief makes it clear that his officers are sworn to protect and serve everyone in the community, regardless of their immigration status.
"We have victims out there that are minorities and victims that are here illegally and are afraid to come forward because they are afraid they might be deported and victimized on top of being victimized," he said. "To me that's a bad message."
Tony Xelhua became a U.S. citizen 20 years ago, and owns a restaurant outside of Metropolis.
The owner said he appreciates the chief's message.
"It's good for some people I guess, if they fear, so they won't have anything to fear, but as long as you cooperate with the laws I think you should be fine."Xelhua said.
There are some people who didn't approve the chief's messages with one Facebook user saying "just do it."
Chief Masse said he plans to do whatever is necessary so that he upholds truth, justice and the American way.
"If we have illegal aliens that are [gang members]... if we have illegal aliens that are causing violent crimes and being a threat to our community, we'll use every tool in the tool box to get rid of them."
Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel also said he approves of the chief's message one hundred percent.