The force is the largest in America, with a starved and ineffectual Internal Affairs department, which has been powerless to check the Border Patrol's slide into collusion with drug-runners, shootings of protesters, and extreme violence in border areas.
An independent report commissioned by the DHS found that CPB has the highest per-capita record of officers being arrested for corruption, and concluded that its officer have a culture that includes the use of deadly force against unarmed people who present no threat. For example, the LA Times has reported on incidents in which CPB officers fired on protesters throwing rocks over the US/Mexico border fence, rather than simply backing out of range; and on incidents in which CBP officers deliberately stepped into the paths of cars in order to justify shooting at their drivers.
The report recommends that officers cease the widespread, illegal practice of taking off their nametags and badge-number patches, which is sensible enough, but the fact that they have to be told to stop doing this is indicative of the force's culture of unaccountability and corruption.
Even if the Internal Affairs department is beefed up, the report holds out little hope of getting rid of endemic corruption among the force's 44,000 armed officers, because the agency is so riddled with crooked officers.
The Border Patrol officers' union objects to the addition of more Internal Affairs officers.
The scathing assessment by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an independent group that reports to Johnson, also is the latest to slam the Border Patrol for lack of accountability for hundreds of shootings by agents.
It calls for new rules to bar Border Patrol agents from shooting people who are unarmed or who don't present a deadly threat. It also urges officials to revise policies to emphasize that the "overarching responsibility is to preserve human life" and to specifically restrict agents from shooting at moving vehicles and people throwing rocks or other objects.
The Los Angeles Times reported last year that some Border Patrol agents stepped in front of cars to justify shooting at drivers, and had opened fire on people throwing rocks from across the border in Mexico when agents could have moved out of harm's way.
In May, the Customs and Border Protection internal affairs office absolved dozens of Border Patrol agents of criminal misconduct in 64 shooting incidents between January 2010 and October 2012, including 19 that resulted in deaths. The Justice Department is still considering charges in three other cases.
Critics along the Southwest border and in Mexico long have argued that the Border Patrol operates with little transparency or accountability.
Indeed, one of the report's recommendations is that agents and officers "must wear visible name tags identifying their last name on all uniforms at all times," a practice that critics say is often ignored. A video posted online of a 21-year-old woman in New York state being Tased at a roadside checkpoint last month shows a Border Patrol supervisor wearing a green tactical vest with no visible name tag.
Border Patrol needs to crack down on internal corruption, report says [Brian Bennett/LA Times]
(via Super Punch)
(Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol Station in Wellton, Ariz.,,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Public Domain)