Border Patrol Challenges NY Times, PERF To Prove Claims

The National Border Patrol Council issued a challenge to the New York Times, the Police Executive Research Forum, or the ACLU to prove claims that agents deliberately created situation that allowed them to use deadly force.

The Border Patrol agents’ union issued the challenge on its Facebook page. It reads:

We challenge the New York Times, PERF, or the ACLU to find one documented case where as they claim, agents stood in front of vehicles or rock throwers so they could use deadly force. It just hasn’t happened. Agents have thousands of encounters every day with safe results. To pre-judge the actions of one and then paint 21,000 other agents with the same brush as reckless and unaccountable is both unwarranted and poor journalism.

We will agree on one count, the agency needs to be more transparent if for no other reason than to put a stop to illogical arguments such as this.

The union shared a link to a recent New York Times opinion piece applauding the recent indictment of Agent Lonnie Swartz for the shooting death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez. Tremendous political pressure was brought to bear to secure an indictment of Swartz this month, three years after the shooting and after being investigated and cleared by multiple local, state and federal agencies and then returned to the field to work.

The New York Times claims that the “indictment lends credence to what José Antonio’s family and activists on both sides of the border have long insisted: that this was another senseless killing by a member of an agency notorious for the reckless use of deadly force.”

The Times claims that the union’s request that the public reserve judgment is “fair,” but then proceeds to pass judgment on Swartz and all other Border Patrol agents using cherry-picked findings by PERF (Police Executive Research Forum).

In PERF’s 2013 report, the group alleged that Border Patrol’s agents did not move away from rock throwers or deliberately stood in the way of fleeing cars, to justify deadly force. Neither the New York Times nor PERF offered proof of the allegations. However unlike PERF, the New York Times ignored the dangerous realities agents face every day. PERF’s findings include:

– Border protection along the U.S./Mexico Border is a unique and hazardous assignment. Frequent and dangerous rock attacks and other attacks on agents take place when agents are patrolling or making arrests near the border. In many cases, agents must effect drug seizures and arrests under threat of such attacks. For example, when drug smugglers who are intercepted by agents are attempting to flee and to take bales of drugs back across the border, agents are expected to do what they can to apprehend the suspects and recover the drugs. However, rocks being thrown and the threat of gunfire coming from south of the border create a significant danger justifying defensive action. If agents are only armed with deadly weapons, they are left with few options: retreat, or use their firearms.

– Agents assigned to marine patrol and agents assigned to patrol or who respond near the International Border Fence (IBF) are particularly vulnerable to rock attacks.

Read the PERF report here.

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