CBP's Review of Use of Force Cases Still Lacks Transparency and Accountability

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Southern Border Region/Washington D.C. - The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) is disappointed by the National Use of Force Review Board's (NUFRB) findings of four use of force incidents involving U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers.

The information released by CBP reveals that the agency still has a long way to go in how it reports use of force incidents to the public and how it holds agents accountable for their actions.

Earlier this year, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) issued 39 recommendations to streamline "CBP's broken disciplinary process from intake to final resolution of discipline, establishing a CBP-wide method to receive, track and respond to public complaints."

HSAC and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concluded that CBP lacks accountability and oversight and have offered clear recommendations to address this culture of impunity. With commitments from Commissioner Kerlikowske to reform the agency, today's findings are unacceptable and continue to demonstrate a lack of leadership and will to commit to accountability

Christian Ramirez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition states the following:

"While we applaud Commissioner Kerlikowske's efforts to increase the agency's transparency by releasing these findings to the public, CBP must immediately adopt clear oversight and accountability mechanisms in order to restore public trust in the nation's largest-law enforcement agency. Today's news are too little and too late for dozens of families who continue to wait for CBP leadership to take bold and decisive action to end the culture of violence and impunity that has plagued CBP for years.

Every day CBP fails to implement accountability and oversight measures, they enable agents and officers to abuse their power, profile residents, and kill unarmed civilians in incidents that to date have been shrouded in secrecy and offend American values of equality and justice. Without decisive action to adopt common-sense policing best practices, Commissioner Kerlikowske's tenure runs the risk of ending as it began: with abuses being hidden from public view and met with impunity."

Background

Since January 2010, almost 50 individuals have died as a result of an encounter with CBP officials. At least 33 deaths resulted from the use of lethal force. The National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) was created to bring transparency and accountability to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Transparency about the NUFRB's process, findings, and details regarding how any recommendations are being implemented is essential to make the Board an effective mechanism to build accountability and public trust. Like any other law enforcement agency, CBP must be held to the standards outlined by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

For several years law-enforcement experts, from both the public and private sector, have urged CBP to adopt police best practices in order to ensure added transparency and accountability measures inside CBP. In 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) was commissioned by CBP to conduct a review of the Use of Force by CBP officers and agents. This review included all CBP use of deadly force events from January 2010 through October 2012 and CBP use of force policies, equipment, tactics, and training and offered detailed recommendations for CBP to adopt. Click here for critical questions that CBP needs to answer regarding its use of force policy.

About SBCC

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.

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