FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Andrea Alford, 202-548-6616, aalford@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – This afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled the locations where it will begin its pilot testing of body-worn cameras. The pilot marks the latest effort by CBP to respond to the concerns of border residents about the alarming trend of excessive use of force incidents by its officers and agents.

“Finally, the cries of harassment, abuse of power, and fear from border community members have been heard,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights. “Equipping port-of-entry officers and Border Patrol agents with body-worn cameras, governed by privacy protections, will help protect abuse victims, and if used appropriately these cameras will help ensure that CBP’s interaction with community members is fair and lawful.”

At least 39 people have died and dozens have been seriously injured since January 2010 in encounters with CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. Nearly 34 of those deaths were the result of CBP officers and agents using lethal force. Last year marked the most violent year at the hands of CBP since human rights groups began tracking incidents in January 2010. The trend has continued into the new year, as CBP personnel have been involved in multiple shootings in recent weeks.

“The implementation of body-worn cameras has the potential to significantly bolster CBP’s recent commitment to transparency and accountability,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “While we welcome cameras as a step forward, they are not a complete solution to CBP’s troubling track record of excessive force and other abuses. We must see other tangible reforms to the agency’s culture, such as a responsive complaint process and an end to racial profiling.”

In October 2012, the ACLU asked CBP officials to adopt the use of body-worn cameras, with adequate privacy protections, as a best practice for police. In September 2013, CBP announced that its new initiatives would include a pilot program to incorporate the use of video recording on CBP agents and officers. The current pilot began at the Border Patrol training facility in Artesia, New Mexico, in late 2014. It continues with field deployments in West Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Michigan.

More information about the ACLU’s work around body-worn cameras is available at: https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/strengthening-cbp-use-body-worn-cameras

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