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Arizona Republic: More Transparency Is Required to Keep Border Patrol Honest

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Editorial Board
Arizona Republic

Cops and the public should demand high standards from law enforcement. Why? Because high standards foster community confidence and cooperation. Both are necessary to good police work.

That’s especially important for Customs and Border Protection, which is charged with protecting the integrity of our ports and borders.

Why? Because what CBP does is a matter of national security. The agency’s actions need to be professional, transparent and in accord with our national commitment to human rights.

But the lack of transparency about use of deadly force at CBP, the nation’s largest law-enforcement agency, is a disturbing theme that is illustrated by three recent developments.

The first involves the trial of Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz, who is charged with killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez three years ago by shooting through the border fence into Nogales, Sonora.

In granting a delay in the trial, U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins issued a protection order for at least two videos of the incident that CBP has previously refused to release, despite Freedom of Information requests from The Arizona Republic.

The agent shot the teen, who was allegedly throwing rocks, at least 10 times in the back and head. Witnesses say the boy was just walking down the street. The videos could help reveal the truth, but CBP stonewalled and now the public will have to wait even longer to know the truth.

Arizona Republic research found that on-duty Border Patrol and Customs officers have killed at least 53 people since 2005, including 15 Americans. The officers involved rarely faced consequences.

Agent Swartz is only the third Border Patrol agent prosecuted since 2005 and the first to be charged by the Justice Department. The others were not convicted in local prosecutions.

To read more click here. 


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