Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) listen to testimony from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Donna Burton)

Feinstein to CBP: ‘Inadequate Guidelines’ May Contribute to ‘Numerous’ Pursuit Deaths

The ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee called upon Customs and Border Protection to re-evaluate its pursuit policies after a report detailing “numerous fatalities caused by Border Patrol car chases, especially in California.”

“Recent reports indicate that Border Patrol vehicle pursuits resulted in at least 250 injuries and 22 deaths from 2015 to 2018,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote to Acting Commissioner John Sanders following a Pro Publica/Los Angeles Times investigative piece.

The article did not rely on CBP statistics, which the reporters said were not provided upon request, but on numbers reaped by reporters digging through more than 9,000 federal criminal complaints filed against suspected human smugglers from 2015 to 2018.

“I strongly agree with the Department of Justice’s recommendations that law enforcement should consider the severity of an offense and the potential for injuries and fatalities before initiating a high-speed vehicle pursuit,” Feinstein wrote. “However, CBP’s pursuit policy does not follow the Justice Department guidelines, but instead offers insufficient protection against possible injuries and fatalities, either to bystander members of the public or occupants of a pursued vehicle. This has led to catastrophic and unwarranted results.”

“Specifically, I am concerned that these inadequate guidelines may have contributed to numerous deaths during recent CBP vehicle pursuits, including the death of a Sacramento man in Chula Vista on April 25, of three individuals in eastern San Diego County in November 2018, and of three individuals, including a child, in Rancho Bernardo in August 2017,” she continued. “Accordingly, I urge you to re-evaluate the CBP pursuit policy in light of these deaths and Justice Department recommendations.”

McAleenan at Border: ‘We Are Taking Aggressive Action to Mitigate the Crisis’

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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