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Tag: CBP

Los Angeles Times: Border Patrol Appears to Be Using Stalling Tactics with Body Cameras

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

To assure the public of their commitment to transparency and accountability, many law enforcement agencies across the country — including the Los Angeles Police Department — have embraced body-worn cameras with admirable rapidity. However, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, the U.S. Border Patrol, is moving so slowly to adopt this new technology that it appears not to be moving at all.

In August, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection working group completed a yearlong feasibility study of body cameras at the request of Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. The group did an adequate job of outlining the pitfalls of having Border Patrol agents wear cameras (resistance by the officers, privacy concerns and cost, among other things) and the benefits (decreased use-of-force incidents, better record-keeping and improved safety of officers).

No surprises there. Police agencies, including the LAPD, made similar cost-benefit analyses as they prepared to roll out their programs. And while tricky, none of the policy challenges has proved insurmountable. Meanwhile, studies over the last year have found that when police wear body cameras and record video of interactions with suspects, it really does influence the behavior of officers and suspects alike, and dramatically reduces use-of-force incidents. Today, many police chiefs, civil rights groups and even the president are praising body cameras as an essential law enforcement tool that makes everyone safer.

This made Kerlikowske’s announcement last week that even more review of body cameras was still necessary all the more suspect. Was this just a stalling tactic by a department not committed to transparency?

To read more click here. 

Border Patrol: Agents Will Eventually Wear Body Cameras

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Steve Neavling

Despite a year-long review that recommended against Border Patrol wearing body cameras, the head of CBP said the goal is to eventually employ the technology in the field, the Arizona Republic reports. 

The CBP commissioner said the cameras must withstand long hours in often harsh environments.

“We will work through it both from a technological stand point and a negotiation standpoint, but the goal is to employ body cameras where they would be most useful and helpful,” CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said Thursday in a conference call with reporters.

One obstacle is the expected resistance from labor unions representing Border Patrol agents.

The news comes after a review released last week suggested the body cameras that were tested were not suitable for use by Border Patrol agents.

It’s not yet clear when the cameras would be employed.

“Let me assure you, it won’t be years and any opposition that is out there can be overcome and then we will move forward with this,” Kerlikowske said.

Other Stories of Interest

Internal Review by Border Patrol Rejects Body Cameras for Agents

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Steve Neavling

Even as Border Patrol faces increased scrutiny for using excessive force along the U.S.-Mexico border, CBP concluded that body cameras aren’t needed for agents, MSNBC reports. 

The yearlong internal review found that body cameras would be too costly, sink agent morale and make law enforcement more ineffective.

The review was prompted by complaints of excessive force – even deadly force – by Border Patrol agents.

The conclusions drawn in the view are “dated” and don’t “reflect the agency’s deliberations over the past months or conclusions of CBP leadership, the agency said in a statement.

More than 20,000 agents patrol the U.S. border, which would make it the largest law enforcement agency in the nation to use body cameras.

“Body-worn cameras have the potential to provide huge benefits for Customs and Border Protection and the public,” said Jacinta Ma, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Immigration Forum. “As the largest law enforcement agency in the country, CBP has an opportunity to step up.”

Arizona Republic: CBP’s Decision to Back Out of Job Fair Was ‘Dumb’

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

When it comes to dumb, divisive stunts, the case of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the University of California-Irvine deserves special recognition.

It’s about intolerance, political correctness on steroids and plain old-fashioned selfishness.

Here’s what happened:

UC Irvine planned to include the Border Patrol in a career fair. The agency offers decent-paying, professional jobs that some students might have been interested in pursuing.

But other students freaked. They collected more than 650 signatures on a petition saying the Border Patrol’s presence on campus was a “blatant disregard to undocumented students’ safety and well-being.”

The student body president said allowing the agents on campus for the job fair would send a message “that undocumented students are not welcome.”

The school has about 500 undocumented students – and, sure, some of them might have avoided the Border Patrol booth.

That’s how it goes in the marketplace of ideas. Any campus bristling with opposing viewpoints will have something going on that some students find unappealing. But you don’t ban cheeseburgers to protect the feelings of the vegetarians.

Besides, the Border Patrol was looking for recruits, not people to apprehend.

Computer System That Checks Passengers Against Terrorism Watch Lists Goes Down

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling

A Homeland Security computer system designed to raise red flags about airline passengers on the terrorism watch lists stopped working at five airports on Wednesday night, The Christian Science Monitor reports. 

The system went down for about 90 minutes but did not appear to be malicious, according to CBP.

CBP officers used alternative methods to check for suspicious passengers.

It wasn’t immediately clear which airports were impacted, by NBC News reported security screening problems at John F. Kennedy Airport and airports in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Baltimore.

Other Stories of Interest

Homeland Security Takes Crackdown on Drug Smuggling to the Sky

dea-cocaineBy Steve Neavling

Homeland Security is taking its fight against drug smuggling to the sky.

The Associated Press reports that CBP agents are using aging P-3 surveillance planes with high-tech radar to search for drug smugglers.

The surveillance comes at a time when agents are finding an increasing amount of cocaine smuggling across the Caribbean to the U.S.

In fact, the DEA estimates that cocaine smuggling has increased from 60 tons of the drug to about 100 tons in the past several years.

One reason: Smugglers are finding the Caribbean to be one of the easiest ways to bring the drugs to the U.S.

Other Stories of Interest

Dallas Morning News: Time to Hold Border Patrol More Accountable

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
The Dallas Morning News

Thousands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers face a difficult mission as they work daily to halt illegal immigration and drug smuggling on America’s southern frontier. But there’s no excuse for the dozens of suspicious shootings and other abuses in recent years by minimally accountable border officers.

A June 29 Homeland Security Advisory Council report calls for greater accountability by adding hundreds of internal affairs investigators to Customs and Border Protection’s 44,000-member law-enforcement staff. The report contrasts the agency’s extraordinarily high number of arrests with those of similarly sized urban police forces and concludes that the agency lacks adequate checks and balances against abuse.

It’s disconcerting that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, parent agency of the Border Patrol, has waited so long to institute reforms, especially considering persistent reports of corruption and misconduct among border law enforcers.

An internal investigation identified 67 Border Patrol shooting incidents in which 19 civilians died — including an unarmed Mexican boy killed during a rock-throwing incident at the El Paso border bridge in 2010.

Other notorious cases involved a youth’s shooting death as he stood on the Mexican side of the border fence near Nogales, Ariz., and a 19-year-old American shot dead while climbing from the U.S. side of the fence into Mexico. An agent on a Border Patrol boat in the Rio Grande killed a 37-year-old man who had been picnicking with his family on the Mexican riverside near Laredo in 2012.

In 64 such cases, the agents involved were absolved. Three cases remain under investigation.

A big part of the problem is that the border zone exists in a legal gray area where neither country’s laws fully apply, especially if an agent’s bullet crosses the border to hit a target on the other side.

A 2003 Homeland Security reorganization added to the problem by reducing the number of internal affairs investigators to zero, the report says. Currently, there are only 218 internal affairs investigators for a Customs and Border Protection workforce of 60,000, more than two-thirds of whom are law enforcers.

The advisory council report calls for a net increase of 350 investigators to address corruption and misconduct allegations in a timely fashion. It also calls for revised use-of-force guidelines emphasizing agents’ “overarching responsibility” for preserving human life.

Other recommendations call for the use of body cameras, limiting agents’ use of firearms against individuals throwing nonlethal items, such as rocks, and for ending use of firearms in car-chase scenarios.

These are common-sense measures that most urban police forces already employ. Border enforcement is serious business, but not so serious that innocents and nonlethal offenders deserve to pay for tighter security with their lives.

To read more click here. 

Is Border Patrol’s Drone Program Really Worth the Money?

Manned aircraft was found to be far more effective and less costly.

By Steve Neavling 

Is the Border Patrol’s use of drone worth the money?

It’s a question raised and explored by a lengthy story in the Arizona Republic. 

The newspaper found that drones helped nab less than 3% of the drugs seized by agent over the past two fiscal years.

By comparison, look at the success rate of manned aircrafts: More than 99% of weapons, cash and meth seizures were by manned aircraft.

But to CBP, the drug seizures “are not an appropriate performance measure,” spokesman Carlos Lazo said, adding that the drones “detect illegal cross-border activity … on a daily basis.”

The drone program cost taxpayers $600 million, a figure that is on the rise.

The newspaper cites Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General to back up its assertion that the drones are too expensive.

The Arizona Republic concluded that “manned aircraft or other, less expensive drones could provide broader coverage than the Predator Bs have delivered, at a significantly lower cost.”