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Border & Immigration

Report Calls For More Internal Investigators At U.S. Customs And Border Protection

Customs and Border Protection should more than double its ranks of internal affairs investigators, an advisory panel has recommended in a report sent to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The panel recommended in a draft report that CBP add 350 criminal investigators to scrutinize its own agents and officers.

Johnson assigned the Integrity Advisory Panel, led by the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Karen Tandy, and New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, to look at the agency's policies and procedures last year.


The panel recommended that CBP, the parent agency of U.S. Border Patrol, improve its use-of-force policies in part by emphasizing the responsibility to preserve life and "implement specific restrictions on the use of firearms involving a moving vehicle."

A Police Executive Research Forum-commissioned report on the agency's use-of-force practices that was released last year said some agents were suspected of intentionally placing themselves in front of fleeing cars before firing their service weapons.

The group also made several recommendations about how the agency can improve transparency, including reducing delays in releasing information publicly about incidents involving the agency or individual agents.

The advisory panel report has not been released publicly and was obtained by The Associated Press. The group's recommendations were first reported by The Los Angeles Times and The Arizona Republic.

CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement that many of the issues highlighted by the panel centered on efforts "already implemented or underway."


"I am committed to continuing the progress made in the last year and to continue our work to earn the trust and respect of the American public and of the communities we work within," Kerlikowske said.

National Border Patrol Council Vice President Shawn Moran said there are already investigative bodies in Homeland Security, and suggested streamlining what's already there. "That being said, we don’t stand for corruption," he said. "We don’t want corrupt agents within our ranks."

CBP has been plagued with criticism from human rights activists and others who have alleged abuses by agents and officers against border crossers. Last year Johnson gave the agency authority to investigate criminal allegations, including corruption, against its own personnel.

Corrected: May 23, 2024 at 1:30 AM PDT
KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero contributed to this report.