Report: DHS must better track excessive force - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Report: DHS must better track excessive force


The U.S. Mexico border is a dangerous place, and because most agents work alone, they rely on their training and instinct to keep our borders safe, but a new report suggests they may need more of that training when it comes to using force. 

Congress asked for this review after a man who had been shocked several times from a stun gun died at the border near San Diego last year.

According to the report from the Office of the Inspector General, agents need more training and better record keeping. But some said that's not enough.

"Not only has it gotten more dangerous for us, but it's gotten more dangerous for migrants," said Andy Adame with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. While he said the number of people illegally crossing the border is down, crime is not. 
"We're seeing an uptick in the numbers of assaults, rapes, robberies, beatings, conducted on aliens by the smugglers themselves," Adame said. 

But there have been incidents in which agents crossed the line and used excessive force. 

That's why the office of the Inspector General began investigating, but even they weren't able to identify the exact number of excessive force allegations, because there is no such designation in the Department of Homeland Security system.

So they combed through records from 2007 to 2012 and found 2,093 involving excessive force allegations. Sixty-three percent, involved possible excessive force, 26 percent were inconclusive and the rest were unfounded. 

In addition to keeping better records, the report said agents need more training because many don't understand the extent to which they may or may not use force.

"There's no mention in this report of any disciplinary action or any accountability measures or recommendations for accountability measures," said James Lyall with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. He said he wants an independent body to oversee the changes he believes need to be made, like more transparency. 

"Increasing accountability within an agency that, at times, appears to be really out of control," Lyall said.

CBP sent us a statement saying they agree with the recommendations, and have already started reviewing how and where they train, as well as the weapons and equipment they use. 

The report said CBP is planning on building a mock border fence training area to help in scenario-based training. 

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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