Police Abuse

Border Patrol Misconduct Becomes a National Problem

Criminals with badges and federal paychecks

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By 7 p.m., the Border Patrol, having questioned the first two victims, had realized there was a third victim, notifying the FBI that a kidnapping had occurred and that the girl was probably being held by a Border Patrol agent. The magnitude and horror of the crime were unusual, but the potential perpetrator wasn't. The FBI in McAllen had gotten used to investigating assaults and misconduct among Border Patrol agents; it had become the field office's top criminal priority…

But the Border Patrol has also become one of the nation's deadliest law enforcement agencies over that same period, involved in more fatal shootings—at least 46—since 2004 than perhaps any other such agency. (As this summer's events in Ferguson, Missouri, showed, definitive statistics on fatal law enforcement shootings are notoriously difficult to collect.) An internal report last year that the agency tried to keep secret accused its agents of shooting their weapons not out of fear for their lives but instead out of "frustration."