A new government audit reports that assaults on U.S. Border Patrol officers decreased from 1,089 in 2010 to 856 last year.
While 856 is still a troubling number, the finding by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General appears to throw shade on the oft-repeated assertion that the Border Patrol is the most assaulted law-enforcement agency in the country.
According to FBI statistics, 9.75 percent of 586,446 U.S. law-enforcement officers were assaulted in 2016 (the latest year for which data were available).
Assaults on the 18,600 Border Patrol officers occurred at a rate of 4.9 percent last year, based on the Inspector General’s findings.
But – there’s generally a “but” with government accounting — the IG said its Border Patrol data “is unreliable and does not accurately reflect whether assaults have increased or decreased.”
“Officers do not always report acts of physical resistance or attempted assaults, even when required to do so,” the report noted. “Without reliable data and adequate training, [the agency]may not be doing enough to mitigate and prevent assaults.”
Of 128 Border Patrol officers interviewed, 23 percent said they would not report some physical confrontations because they believed “it would be a waste of time” if they had not been injured.
Even with that, reported assaults on Border Patrol agents have risen steadily over the past three fiscal years – from 425 in 2015 to 585 in 2016 to 856 in 2017.
Anecdotal evidence of the dangers of patrolling the border is compelling. Type “assaults” into the search bar of the Customs and Border Protection website and 1,095 results detail all manner of attacks on border agents. Incidents range from throwing bombs and rocks to biting, blinding, stabbing and shooting.
The American public deserves a straightforward, accurate accounting of what’s going on with Border Patrol officers. The sooner, the better, for all concerned.