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CBP Announces New Use-Of-Force Protocols

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CBP Announces New Use-Of-Force Protocols

CBP Announces New Use-Of-Force Protocols

PHOENIX — The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced plans to test body cameras for border agents and other changes to how use-of-force incidents are investigated.

The announcement comes amid mounting criticism of the agency’s lack of transparency.

CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, who took the post in March, announced his agency now has new criminal investigative authority to respond to alleged employee misconduct.

The agency is implementing a unified, formal review process for use-of-force incidents, and an interagency board will review each use-of-force incident.

“With the new process we can respond to the use-of-force incidents much more quickly and be much more open about it,” Kerlikowske said during a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Critics have called out the agency for not disciplining agents who use deadly force, and for not making the review process transparent.

“Things haven’t been fine in the past,” Kerlikowske said. “I think that has been very clear.”

The agency will also begin testing various models of body cameras next month at the federal law enforcement training facility in Artesia, N.M.

“Whether these moves actually translate into real changes in the culture of the agency — a culture that has been described as a culture of abuse and impunity — remains to be seen,” said ACLU of Arizona attorney James Lyall.

Lyall is involved in a lawsuit against an unnamed Border Patrol agent who fatally shot an unarmed Mexican boy who was in Nogales, Mexico.

“There is an almost reflexive urge to shield agents from accountability, and for all of Commissioner Kerlikowske’s commitment to transparency and accountability, in practice we haven’t seen that," Lyall said.

The president of the Border Patrol's union in Tucson, Art del Cueto, said he had concerns body camera footage could be used to unfairly discipline agents.

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.