Bor­der Pa­trol mis­con­duct sta­tis­tics im­pli­cate Texas

Laredo sec­tor had sec­ond-high­est rate of dis­ci­plinary ac­tions

Albuquerque Journal - - NATION & WORLD - BY COLLEEN LONG AND NOMAAN MER­CHANT

WASH­ING­TON — The Bor­der Pa­trol sec­tor in Laredo, Texas — where two agents were ac­cused this year of mul­ti­ple mur­ders in sep­a­rate cases — dis­ci­plined em­ploy­ees more on av­er­age over two years than any other ma­jor sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion on Fri­day.

The find­ings were part of a com­pre­hen­sive look at mis­con­duct at the 60,000-em­ployee law en­force­ment agency that in­cludes the Bor­der Pa­trol. The data showed over­all there was a de­cline in sub­stan­ti­ated com­plaints of mis­con­duct and fewer ar­rests of agents in the bud­get years 2016 and 2017.

“The dis­ci­plinary re­ports show that the vast ma­jor­ity of CBP agents and of­fi­cers ex­em­plify our core val­ues, per­form their du­ties with in­tegrity, and that ev­ery em­ployee is ac­count­able to up­hold­ing the high stan­dards of pro­fes­sional con­duct both on and off-duty,” said Melvin Har­ris, deputy as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner of hu­man re­sources man­age­ment at CBP.

The data do not in­clude 2018. But they showed the Laredo sec­tor, one of the na­tion’s largest, was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­ci­plinary prob­lems even be­fore the high­pro­file cases.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­ports, there were 435 in­stances in which an agent in Laredo was dis­missed, sus­pended, de­moted or given an­other form of dis­ci­pline in the 2016 and 2017 bud­get years.

The av­er­age rate of dis­ci­plinary ac­tions in Laredo was 11.3 per 100 em­ploy­ees in the 2016 fis­cal year and rose to 13 per 100 em­ploy­ees in 2017. Laredo was above the na­tional av­er­age for those years, which was 8.1 and 7.4, re­spec­tively.

Laredo had the sec­ond­high­est rate of any sec­tor in 2016, be­hind only Mi­ami, a com­par­a­tively small sec­tor with no land bor­der to pa­trol.

It had the high­est rate of all sec­tors in 2017. It had al­most the same num­ber of dis­ci­plinary in­ci­dents that year as the neigh­bor­ing Rio Grande Val­ley sec­tor, which is the na­tion’s busiest cor­ri­dor for unau­tho­rized cross­ings and has nearly twice as many em­ploy­ees.

Last month, Laredo agent Juan David Or­tiz was ar­rested and ac­cused of tar­get­ing women be­lieved to be pros­ti­tutes in what prose­cu­tors say is the work of a se­rial killer. He has been ac­cused of killing four women, and prose­cu­tors say he likely used his ser­vice weapon in the crimes. Or­tiz has not been in­dicted, and his at­tor­ney didn’t re­spond to a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

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