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Tag: use of force

LA Times: Border Patrol Must Continue Accountability, Use of Force Improvements

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

Over the past three years, the Obama administration has struggled to change a culture of violence and impunity within the U.S. Border Patrol — a culture that has tolerated excessive force against suspected border crossers, including unnecessary lethal shootings. To its credit, the government has forced some improvements in both transparency and accountability, as well as reductions in the use of force, under Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, though the agency continues to face dogged problems with bribery and other underhanded actions by some of the agents.

Whether the Border Patrol will continue to improve under the Trump administration is an open question. Kerlikowske is retiring and President-elect Donald Trump has not yet nominated a successor. Mark Morgan took over as chief of the Border Patrol, answering to Kerlikowske, in October, the first outsider to be put in charge of the agency. A former assistant director of the FBI and military veteran, Morgan was brought in to the Border Patrol two years ago to revamp its troubled internal affairs department. His appointment as chief signals the seriousness with which the Obama administration is trying to force changes by challenging the institutional culture.

But Morgan will now be working for Trump, whose harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric during the campaign is well known and who has vowed to take dramatic steps (such as building an enormous wall along the Mexican border) to keep immigrants from entering the country without authorization. Despite getting little support from organized labor generally, Trump received a rare early endorsement in the primaries from the union representing border patrol agents, which has been critical of the Obama administration’s reform efforts and has accused it of seeking to “demoralize Border Patrol agents” and to “dismantle immigration enforcement.” In accepting the union’s endorsement, Trump didn’t emphasize the reforms that need to be made, but merely vowed to provide the agency with “the resources, tools and support they need to protect the United States and stop the influx of drugs, gangs and cartel violence.” Given that, there is reason to fear backsliding.

To read more click here. 

FBI to Create a National Database on Use of Force by Law Enforcement

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI tracks records on plenty of crimes, but it has not collected statistics on the number of times police use force when interacting with the public.

That is about to change under a pilot program early next year that will compile statistics and establish the first online database on fatal and nonfatal use-of-force among law enforcement, the Washington Post reports. 

“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement Thursday. “The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”

But there’s one flaw: The Justice Department is barred from requiring state and local law enforcement to report nonfatal interactions with the public.

The pilot program comes amid high-profile police shootings of black people.

FBI Director James Comey said it’s “unacceptable” and “ridiculous” that there isn’t comprehensive data on law enforcement’s use of force.

Other Stories of Interest

Border Patrol Reports Less Frequent Use of Force, But Accuracy of Data Questioned

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Parol agents and custom officers reported fewer incidents of resorting to force this year, saying they used firearms just seven times in the first five month of the fiscal year.

But the Los Angele Times reports that the figures released Thursday omitted at least one fatal shooting in El Paso. Because of that, some civil rights advocates questioned the accuracy of the data.

“It speaks to a lack of confidence in the statistics themselves. I don’t think there are that many firearm incidents that you can’t have a tabulation of what happened,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, adding that until more detailed numbers are released, “it’s very hard to have faith in these statistics.”

Last fiscal year, the agency reported using firearms 28 times, compared to 29 times the year before.

The agency released the data by geographic sector for the first time.

Justice Department Issues Scathing Report of Cleveland Police Department’s Abusive Practices

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A federal examination of the practices and procedures by the Cleveland Police Department prompted the Justice Department to deliver a scatting review of the department with a mandate for sweeping changes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder based the findings on a civil rights investigation that involved nearly 600 use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2013.

Among the problems found were insufficient accountability, ineffective policies and inadequate training.

The 58-page report found that police have shot at suspects without justifiable case, beat people who were in handcuffs and covered up abuse by writing false reports.

“The reality is that there are problems,” Holder said. “But I also think the people of Cleveland should have a sense of hope … that these problems have been identified and that they can be rectified.”

Congress Introduces Bill to Increase Oversight of Border Patrol Following Deadly Confrontations

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A bipartisan bill in Congress is aimed at addressing questions about the use of force by Border Patrol agents.

AZCentral.com reports that the bill is designed to increase oversight of CBP and the Border Patrol following widespread criticism of deadly confrontations with immigrants at the border.

But political experts said the bill may not find traction.

According to AZCentral, the bill would:

  • Create an independent border-oversight commission.
  • Establish an ombudsman’s office within the Department of Homeland Security to handle complaints about border and immigration issues.
  • Create a liaison office to improve relations with border communities.
  • Require significantly more transparency about the outcomes of investigations of deadly use-of-force incidents; and provide additional training and resources to officers, agents and supervisors.

Will it pass? Unlikely, says some political observers.

“The Republicans control the House, this is an anti-immigration crowd and a pro-enforcement crowd,” said Michael O’Neil, president of Tempe polling firm O’Neil Associates. “Secure the border first, that’s their answer to everything.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST