CBP’s Use-of-Force Statistics Fall Short of True Transparency, Accountability
HOUSTON — Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released stats on use-of-force incidents for fiscal year 2015, claiming a reduction in incidents, yet falling short of providing stats on all officer-civilian interactions involving force. Most conspicuously, CBP defines force narrowly to exclude incidents that are captured by the Department of Justice’s standards. Beyond CBP’s three chosen categories—a physical restraint, the use of an alternative device or the application of lethal force—the stats fail to provide all incidents of use of force.
The following can be attributed to Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:
“We are all for less use of force by CBP, which has a deeply troubling record of killings and excessive force. But CBP’s release today celebrates a decrease in use-of-force incidents based on incomplete statistics that exclude many uses of force. The announcement lacks transparency regarding pending disciplinary action or investigations and fails to assuage border residents’ concerns that CBP culture values military-style policing over de-escalation and preservation of human life. CBP should use force only as a last resort, and any force used should be publicly reported and investigated to ensure that it was no more than necessary.”
The following can be attributed to Chris Rickerd, policy counsel with the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office:
“CBP’s 2015 reduction in lethal-force use and the agency’s public release of improved data about some incidents are encouraging, yet CBP doesn’t appear to be counting anywhere near all uses of force defined by the Department of Justice. Without more accurate statistics, proper investigation of numerous past cases involving deadly and abusive force, and the addition of civilian oversight, CBP will fail to build trust in border communities about its reforms.”
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