Border agents relying on outdated surveillance equipment

A prototype of a tower for a “virtual” fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

By Brian Bennett

Los Angeles Times

An Obama administration plan to install new cameras and improved ground sensors along the Southwest border has stalled, potentially creating unnecessary dangers for agents there.

Officials say a false alarm from a ground sensor in southern Arizona was to blame when several U.S. Border Patrol agents rushed to the remote canyon on horseback Oct. 2, shortly after midnight. For reasons still unclear, the agents opened fire on one another. One was killed and another wounded.

The incident has raised concerns that a deteriorating network of more than 12,800 ground sensors, as well as other outdated technology, could endanger the lives of those who police the long border with Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection “must replace outdated sensors with more modern, effective technology that can assist the Border Patrol in securing our borders while not sending agents into the field unnecessarily,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.


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