Homeland Security Dept. Censors Internal Report on Border Patrol Shootings

Friday, January 31, 2014
15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, shot death by a Border Patul officer

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stood behind Border Patrol agents who use deadly force against rock throwers along the border, going so far as to censor an internal report that mentioned ways agents could avoid such lethal incidents.


Last fall, DHS’ Office of Inspector General released a report on the Border Patrol’s use of deadly force when encountering immigrants and drug smugglers coming over from Mexico.


But a portion of the report that recommended agents restrain from shooting rock throwers was redacted, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).


That part of the report cited suggestions provided by a think tank, the Police Executive Research Forum, which was asked by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to examine shootings along the border by federal agents. Some of the shooting victims have been on the Mexican side of the border.


The think tank report said CBP should “train agents to de-escalate these encounters by taking cover, moving out of range and/or using less lethal weapons. Agents should not place themselves in positions where they have no alternatives to using deadly force.”


CIR’s Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz wrote that the redacting “highlights how the Department of Homeland Security has attempted to mute the contentious debate surrounding the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection as a spate of agent-involved shootings has left more than 20 people dead since 2010.”


When asked to comment on the censored report, William Hillburg, a spokesman for the Inspector General’s Office, declined to discuss the matter.


He told CIR in an email that the report was “redacted due to deliberative material.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Border Agency Watchdog Censors Recommendations To Curb Deadly Force (by Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, Center for Investigative Reporting)

CBP Use of Force Training and Actions to Address Use of Force Incidents (Department of Homeland Security, Inspector General)

Few Consequences for Border Patrol Agents Using Deadly Force (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Border Patrol Rejects Government-Commissioned Advice to Stop Shooting Rock Throwers (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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