Border Patrol union defends agents, admits training shortfalls

Union: Agency ignored pleas for better training

SAN DIEGO - A Border Patrol union representative says the agency's training standards were lowered to allow as many agents in as possible.

His statements offered further confirmation of what Team 10 has been reporting for weeks.

"Yes the standards were cut," Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Union, said. "The classroom time was cut and we brought these up to the leadership at the Border Patrol and they were wholeheartedly ignored."

Currently the Border Patrol has more agents than ever in its 90-year history.

After 9/11, a 2004 mandate by the Bush administration forced the Border Patrol to recruit 2,000 new agents a year.  There are now more than 20,000 agents.

Moran is the latest source to tell Team 10 about the realities of recruiting and training those agents.

"They put people out in the field that did not have background checks done," Moran said. "You do not teach them our methods and techniques and then put them out in the field with a badge and a gun if you don't know everything about them."

According to Moran and several other sources with detailed knowledge of Border Patrol training and recruiting standards, a mandate during the Bush administration forced the Border Patrol to recruit in places not typical for law enforcement recruitment.

Team 10 found one of those places was at NASCAR events.  According to government financial records, The Border Patrol spent $8.4 million sponsoring a race car.

Moran said the Border Patrol would also recruit at Professional Bull Riding events.

All agents recruited are sent to the Border Patrol training academy in Artesia, N.M.

"At one point it was called 'no trainee left behind,'" Moran said of the Border Patrol Academy.

Moran did say the vast majority of Border Patrol agents do their job well, and with integrity. But he admits there have been more cases of corruption and allegations of excessive force by agents since the training and background standards dropped.

Team 10 found questions about those training standards led to an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol.

DHS secretary Janet Napolitano responded to Team 10's questions about training and allegations of excessive force by agents during a recent visit to San Diego.

"Our department has hired a third party to come in and evaluate our use of force policies within the Border Patrol and make sure that our training and supervision are second to none," she said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said there will be no official interview to answer questions about Border Patrol training and background checks.

Currently at least two cases of excessive force by Border Patrol agents in San Diego are under investigation.

Interactive: Review of Border Patrol agent training

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