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Thursday, December 8, 2022

US Border Patrol Agents Testing Body-Worn Cameras

In an effort to increase transparency and accountability, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has launched a study to test the feasibility of incorporating body-worn cameras by Border Patrol agents in land, air and maritime operational environments.

The testing will help determine whether cameras should be deployed across the agency. Border Patrol agents are currently testing the body-worn cameras in El Paso, Texas; Seattle; Blaine, Washington; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Detroit.

Following a 2013 comprehensive review of CBP’s Use of Force policy, CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske called for the study after the agency came under fire for being slow to investigate allegations of abuse and use of excessive force.

CBP has already completed Phase I of the study, which involved the evaluation of the body worn cameras in training environments at the agency’s training academies. The study is now in Phase II, field testing, which is scheduled to be completed by mid-2015.

US police departments, facing similar criticism, have also turned to testing body cameras. Homeland Security Today previously reported that a study sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police indicates 50 percent of complaints against law enforcement were immediately withdrawn when video evidence was used and 94 percent of citizens supported use of video.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims CBP violence has escalated over the past several years. According to the ACLU in a statement, since January 2010, 39 people have died and dozens have been seriously injured in encounters with CBP. In October 2012, the ACLU encouraged CBP and police to use body-worn cameras to curb excessive use of force incidents by officers and agents.

“The implementation of body-worn cameras has the potential to significantly bolster CBP’s recent commitment to transparency and accountability,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel for the ACLU. “While we welcome cameras as a step forward, they are not a complete solution to CBP’s troubling track record of excessive force and other abuses. We must see other tangible reforms to the agency’s culture, such as a responsive complaint process and an end to racial profiling.”

However, the use of body-worn cameras has been met with resistance by the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the union representing over 18,000 Border Patrol agents, because of privacy and safety concerns.

"We have concerns about how they will be used," said Shawn Moran, vice president of the NBPC. "We also believe they have not done adequate testing."

Moreover, in a statement in September 2013, Moran said, “This is a knee-jerk reaction by CBP that will result in agents hesitating to use force to defend themselves, resulting in more injured and murdered agents. It’s wrong to place these men and women in even greater danger than they’re already in to placate the demands of a few fringe organizations.”

The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that Stuart Harris, vice president of the NBPC Local 1929 in El Paso, Texas, expressed concerns that the cameras could put Border Patrol agents in a deadly situation.

“It may cause the agents to hesitate, and in a deadly force situation, it could cost him his life,” Harris said. “I don’t want to see one of my agents killed because he heUS Border Patrol Agents Testing Body-Worn Cameras Homeland Security Todaysitated.”

Homeland Security Today has reported on numerous occasions that agents protecting US borders, especially the Southwest border, remain frequent targets of cartels and other dangers, including violent illegal aliens trying to cross the border into the US.

For example, Homeland Security Today in March 2014 published a comprehensive investigative report, Deadly Patrol, about the seriousness of “rockings,” as they are called, and that they can cause severe head, brain and bodily injuries.

“It is a very dangerous job, and one where you have to remain constantly alert and be able to take care of yourself and make sure you go home at the end of the shift,” said Moran.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
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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