Reported assaults against CBP officers decreased from 1,089 to 856 over 2010-2017 while those against ICE officers remained the same at 48, but even at CBP “the data does not show a clear trend over that time period and the number of assaults varied widely from year to year,” an IG report has said.
Attacks against federal law officers, particularly those involved in immigration-related enforcement, have become an issue of wide interest, and one with political overtones, in recent years. The IG performed its audit at the request of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has held hearings on the issue.
The figures are not fully reliable because even though both components introduced new reporting systems in 2016, officers “continue to use informal methods instead to document assaults and remain unfamiliar with these reporting systems. Further, the officers do not always report acts of physical resistance or attempted assaults, even when required to do so. In addition, the definition of assault differs for CBP and ICE,” it said.
The IG further found that the two components of DHS “differ in their provision of refresher training to mitigate and prevent assaults, particularly in defensive tactics, and neither component is fully training law enforcement officers to defend themselves against assaults.”
An advocacy group for employees at the federal and lower levels involved in administering public lands similarly reported recently that actual and threatened assaults against federal employees in those roles decreased slightly in 2017, although it too cautioned against drawing conclusions.