Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, right, and Mayor Regina Romero during a news conference on June 24, 2020, about the death of Carlos Ingram-Lopez of Tucson while in police custody in April.
Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star

Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus has been with the department since 2016. His appointment must first get U.S. Senate confirmation.

President Joe Biden intends to nominate Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus to lead the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, according to a Monday report from The New York Times.

Magnus served in the Lansing, Michigan Police Department, and was police chief in the cities of Fargo, North Dakota and Richmond, California before joining the Tucson Police Department in 2016. Since then, the department has been lauded for adopting a number of progressive policies.

“Mr. Biden was compelled to choose him because of those efforts to reform departments, as well as his recent work policing a city close to the U.S.-Mexico border,” the New York Times wrote, citing a White House official.

Magnus, who is white and gay, was a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. He called the policies crafted by Trump and former attorney general Jeff Sessions “harsh” and a hindrance to the efforts of local law enforcement.

“If people are afraid of the police, if they fear they may become separated from their families or harshly interrogated based on their immigration status, they won’t report crimes or come forward as witnesses,” Magnus wrote in a 2017 New York Times opinion piece.

He also declined to accept homeland security grants issued to local police departments to assist the federal government with border enforcement after the Trump administration refused to allow portions of the money to be spent on aid for migrants seeking asylum.

In 2020, Magnus offered his resignation as Tucson’s chief after body-worn camera footage showed Carlos Ingram-Lopez, who was Latino, die while being restrained by officers. Officers responded to the house on reports that the 27-year-old Lopez was experiencing a mental health crisis and acting erratically possibly due to drug use. The city manager ultimately rejected his offer.

Magnus’ nomination is one of six announced for roles in the Department of Homeland Security Monday. His appointment must first get U.S. Senate confirmation.

Magnus did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Copper Courier Monday.