Congressional members ask for probe into the Border Patrol's Critical Incident Teams

Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - 5:45pm

Members of Congress are calling for a federal probe into whether special teams within the U.S. Border Patrol interfered with outside investigations of agent misconduct. 

In a letter sent to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus on Jan. 24, the heads of Congress’ Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Homeland Security say they’ll investigate the Border Patrol’s so-called Critical Incident Teams. 

When an agent is involved in a serious use of force incident like a shooting or car crash, the case is referred to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and sometimes another agency like the FBI.

Critical Incident teams are internal CBP teams often dispatched to work alongside these outside investigations. 

In their letter, the committee heads reference several serious use of force incidents where Critical Incident Teams were dispatched, including one in Nogales last year where a Border Patrol agent shot a Mexican woman in the head. 

They say CBP does not have the authority to investigate its own agents’ misconduct but appears to do so with the use of these teams.

“Congress has not provided CBP specific authority to conduct investigations of its agents’ misconduct, and the CBP Commissioner has not publicly delegated this authority to Border Patrol," the letter reads. "Despite the apparent lack of authority to investigate agent misconduct, the CBP appears to have created Critical Incident Teams to investigate and collect evidence following incidents that may create criminal or civil liability, including allegations of excessive use of force.” 

They asked Magnus to provide detailed information on the teams by Feb. 7. In a separate letter sent Jan. 24, 10 members of Congress ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the teams.