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CBP ousts head of internal affairs

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CBP ousts head of internal affairs

  • A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle next to the border fence west of Yuma.
    Paul M. Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comA U.S. Border Patrol vehicle next to the border fence west of Yuma.

The head of internal affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection was removed from his post on Monday over criticism that the agency has failed to properly investigate accusations of abuse and excessive use of force. 

James F. Tomscheck, who has held the post for eight years, was ousted from internal affairs and transferred to another position within the agency, the LA Times reported.  

FBI Director James B. Comey has assigned Mark Morgan, the Deputy Assistant Director for Inspections at the FBI to replace Tomscheck with orders to aggressively investigate abuses cases. 

Tomscheck, the article noted, had failed to assign enough investigators to review hundreds of complaints of abuse and excessive force by Border Patrol agents.

In an email, Chris O'Neil, the deputy assistant commissioner for Public Affairs with Border Patrol thanked Tomscheck for his "efforts to build" the agency's internal affairs department. 

"As he has said repeatedly, Commissioner Kerlikowske is committed to integrity and transparency, and improving the use of the force review process," O'Neil wrote. "As part of this commitment, CBP has asked the FBI for a top Senior Executive to lead the CBP Office of Internal Affairs on an interim basis." 

The change  will strengthen the agency's internal review capacity "specifically regarding use of force," O'Neil wrote.

"It's been my experience that all complaints are investigated," said Art Del Cueto, the president of the Tucson Sector’s Border Patrol union, Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council. 

As a union representative Del Cueto routinely sits with agents during investigations and thinks investigators in the Tucson Sector are zealous in their approach.

"At least in the Tucson Sector, an agent yelling at a subject can lead to an investigation," he said. 

In May, the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, issued a report showing that fewer than two percent of complaints made against agents led to action. Of 809 abuse complaints filed between January 2009 and January 2012, only 13 resulted in action by the agency. 

More than a third of those complaints came from Tucson Sector, however, when compared to the number of apprehensions, the Del Rio Sector in Texas had the highest rate of abuse complaints. 

In Del Rio, there were 114.3 complaints for every 100,000 apprehensions. By contrast, Tucson was one of the lowest sectors, with a complaint rate of 69.5 per 100,000 apprehensions. 

study from the Police Executive Research Forum described serious problems in the both the investigation and the use of force by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The report cited a "lack of diligence" in investigations. 

Just over a week ago, a U.S Border Patrol agent shot and killed a suspect in Green Valley. The investigation in the shooting is being conducted the Pima County Sheriff's Department. 

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