The number of employees fired by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, doubled from 2014 to 2015, continuing an upward trend in the number of discipline decisions, according to a newly released agency report.
The agency, which has roughly 60,000 employees, fired 141 people in the 2015 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2015. In 2014, 70 were fired. All told, the agency meted out formal discipline in 1,811 cases involving about 3 percent of its employees, according to the report.
The report, the first of its kind to be released publicly, comes in the waning hours of the Obama administration and the tenure of R. Gil Kerlikowske, the agency’s commissioner since 2014. Whether such reforms will continue in a Trump administration is unknown.
During Kerlikowske’s time at the agency, the former drug czar pushed for more transparency and accountability for employee misconduct and to curb excessive use of force. Fatal confrontations have left more than four dozen dead since 2010.
Customs and Border Protection has tracked similar statistics for years, but this is the first time the agency has published its discipline report, said Michael Friel, an agency spokesman.
“We intend to publish every year moving forward,” he said, adding that the agency does not have immediate plans to publish a 2016 fiscal year edition.
Customs and Border Protection has struggled with corruption, misconduct and accountability since its creation nearly 15 years ago. This was the case during much of the Obama administration, as infighting, dysfunction and turf battles persisted among the homeland security internal affairs offices and other federal watchdog agencies that police bad behavior and criminal activity within the ranks.
The U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection’s second-largest office, accounted for more than half of all fired employees. The number of Border Patrol agents terminated in 2015 was more than triple the number of those let go in each year between 2011 and 2013.
The Border Patrol also has wrestled with employee misconduct, which some say has been handled unevenly, particularly in its upper ranks.
Chris Rickerd of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been a vocal critic of the agency and its ability to police itself, said additional information and regular updates are needed at an agency with “still-troubling integrity issues.”
It’s a “very good step in transparency, showing progress in both the number and quality of investigations,” he said.