September 18, 2013 in Nation/World

Report: Homeland must better track excessive force

Christopher Sherman Associated Press
 

McALLEN, Texas – A widely anticipated federal report released Tuesday on excessive force among U.S. border agents contained little discussion of use-of-force policies, but recommended improvements to training and the tracking of such allegations.

The report’s biggest revelation may have been the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General could not come up with a tally of excessive force allegations against Border Patrol agents and customs officers because the agency’s databases do not allow them to be categorized that way.

The report was requested last year by 16 members of Congress concerned with the case of 42-year-old Anastasio Hernandez, who died after being shocked several times with a stun gun at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing in May 2010. The letter lawmakers sent requesting the review said, “we are also concerned that this incident is simply part of a larger cultural problem at the Department.”

The Justice Department’s investigation into his death – one of at least 19 deaths since 2010 that the American Civil Liberties Union attributes to U.S. Customs and Border Protection – continues.

Two of the lawmakers who requested the review said Tuesday the report did not go far enough.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., called the incomplete records of allegations “deeply disturbing” and said he planned to pursue redacted portions. “We expected much more content. We expected a deeper look into it,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said in an email that he welcomed the report’s recommendations, “but Border Patrol needs to do more to curb excessive use of force that has resulted in unnecessary deaths.”

The ACLU similarly called the report a good first step, but said more was expected.

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