Tuesday, November 11, 2014

AZMEX EXTRA2 11-11-14


Note: Updated. In a confrontation with cartel associates armed with rifles, a pistol is of very limited value, leaving the Border Patrol Agents essentially defenseless.

1 hour 56 minutes ago by Michel Marizco and Lupita Murillo
N4T Investigators: Are border agents being disarmed?


That's one of the questions being asked after the News 4 Tucson Investigators broke the story earlier this week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is taking rifles away from some of its agents.

The U.S.-Mexico border consistently proves to be a passionate issue for viewers and readers, alike, especially in Southern Arizona, long an unsecured slice of the 2,000 mile boundary with Mexico.

Our story showed that Customs and Border Protection removed some M4 rifles, citing safety concerns with the weapons. But agents and people within the law enforcement community told us those rifles are not being replaced.

That leaves agents, even senior agents, having to share their weapons. They told us that having to personalize settings on a rifle, like the sights, for example, takes time to do correctly and a poorly sighted weapon can cause an agent their life in a gunbattle.

The question is raised, why is the Border Patrol taking these M4s now?

This year marks a shift in policies for the agency. After several cross-border shootings, like the killing of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez in Nogales, Sonora, in October 2012, the agency reviewed its use-of-force policies.

An internal report last year revealed that some agents fired their weapons out of frustration, not out of fear. The agency's clarification of its use-of-force policies also specified that agents should not place themself in harm's way in order to justify firing their weapon.

Then Customs and Border Protection decreed that it will try out body cameras on agents following allegations of abuse.

These preceded the news that the agency has removed some M4s from its arsenal. This morning, Reason.com wrote, "Hmmm...Amid concerns that Border Patrol is dangerous and out of control, the government may be quietly taking guns away from agents. Interesting."


Over at the Local 2544 website, the site for the union representing Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector, this headline appeared: "Anybody have an M-4 we can borrow?"

The union criticized the Office of Border Patrol, stating, "Border Patrol M-4 rifles are being deadlined at an alarming rate and not all are being replaced ... How is it the a Border Patrol Agent can't get an M-4 that is "sighted in" for him or her? Every LE Agency we talk too, scoff at the idea of officers sharing weapons, especially a weapon that needs to be "sighted in".


For its part, the agency has not given much information about how many rifles were taken, what problems were found with those removed, or whether they'll all be replaced.

In fact, it took the Border Patrol four days to email a four-sentence statement. The KVOA News 4 Investigators asked the agency about the deadlining of its rifles on Monday, Nov. 3. The agency responded near the end of the business day Thursday, Nov. 6, with this statement:

"CBP's Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are jointly inspecting the serviceability of M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol Sectors nationwide. Some of inspected M4 carbines were deemed unserviceable and removed from inventory to alleviate safety concerns. Inspections will continue to ensure the unserviceable M4 carbines are repaired or replaced for reintroduction into the field. No further information is available at this time."

We'll continue pressing the agency for answers into the rifle deadlining and report on our findings.


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