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CBP Limits Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Teams Following Congressional Concerns

By Steve Neavling

CBP is increasing oversight of secretive teams within Border Patrol that conduct internal investigations into misconduct by agents, according to a memo obtained by The Hill.

The responsibilities of critical incident teams (CITS) are being limited after Democrats in Congress urged Biden’s administration to examine the teams.

In a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro last month, 10 committee and subcommittee chairs in the House and Senate are requesting a review of the units.

The House Committees on Homeland Security and Oversight also are conducting their own joint investigations into the critical incident teams. 

“We have grave concerns about the lack of transparency in the role of Border Patrol’s critical incident teams,” the leaders of the committees, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, of N.Y., and Bennie Thompson, of Miss., wrote to new CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus

Border community advocates have questioned the effectiveness of the teams, calling them “shadow police units.”

According to the memo, the Office of Professional Responsibility is given more power to review incidents such as use of force, a death of a migrant in custody, and a pursuit that results in injury or death. 

“To the extent USBP CIT personnel respond to these incidents to provide specialized scene processing or evidence collection capabilities, it must be done so at the direct request of OPR personnel and under the guidance of the OPR incident commander,” the memo, signed by Border Patrol Chief Raúl Ortiz and OPR assistant commission Matthew Klein, states. 

“If CIT team personnel are notified of a critical incident, they will immediately notify the OPR duty agent to determine whether a response is required. CIT teams will not respond to a critical incident unless specifically requested to do so by the OPR duty.”


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