Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 26, 2009

Arrests made in Rosas killing

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 26, 2009

Several arrests have been made in the Thursday evening death of CBP agent Robert Rosas.  This was the first death of a border agent in the line of duty in nearly a decade.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Mexican federal law enforcement authorities said Saturday night that a man who was detained outside Tecate has been identified as the gunman in the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas.”

“The suspect, Ernesto Parra Valenzuela, 36, is in federal custody, Commissioner Elias Alvarez Hernandez, head of federal police forces in Baja California, said at a news conference in Tijuana.”

New York Times background report

Napolitano statement on Agent Rosas

Ahearn statement on Agent Rosas

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 26, 2009 @ 8:07 am

Very sorry for the loss of a very good man! Can it really be true only one death of a Border Patrol Agent in last decade in line of duty? These guys I had the idea were in a highly dangerous occupation which justifies their early retirement (full benefits after 20 years due to the stresses and strains)! There will soon be almost 20,000 of them! I understood that Local police ranks were emptying because of Border Patrol hirings? There is a Public Safety Officer Benefits program once housed in FEMA that was so coveted by DOJ that it was switched in the 80’s to Justice. I believe for every death in line of duty a Public Safety Officer gets $150,000!
However, death in line of duty of federal employee is controlled by the Federal Employees Compensation Act and that death benefit I believe is three (3) times annual salary in additon to survivor benefits under FERS and FEGLI benefits if individual enrolled.

Again sorry for the tragedy and sympathy for the family. We cannot afford to lose even one good Border Patrol Agent.

It would be interesting if OPM did a posting on deaths in line of duty for all federal departments and agencies and their subunits. Perhaps this should be looked at by Congress.

The Border Patrol was a step-child while housed in DOJ and now seems quite militarized. Don’t know the details but are there many second career types from DOD going into high level ranks in the Border Patrol like the rest of DHS?

You get the culture you want in an organization and modern business administration teaches us over and over that there are successful and unsuccessful cultures in the business world! Same is true for government organizations.

Lawrence Korb and Robert Kupperman once wrote an OP-ED in WAPO in mid-80’s that culture of FEMA was corrupt top to bottom. Interesting impact on appointees and employees of FEMA. I wonder how often federal organizations pay for cultural studies? Would putting all of DHS in uniforms and giving all a gun and badge instead of just 80,000 of them improve the culture of DHS as a can-do agency? Is the Border Patrol a can-do agency? Perhaps the question for all organizations is most appropriately “can-do what?” I always thought one of the biggest failures of bureaucracies that like to do the easy things and the repetitive things is what are they NOT doing that really is an essential part of their mission? FEMA which has as its primary mission (or perhaps it has changed?)was the distribution of money to other mission assigned federal departments and agencies and to the STATES, and to give out accurate information. It was not very effective in doing either in my time. It also had other important missions but these were always starved for brains, staffing and funding. As Senator Proximire stated in reviewing the Reorg creating FEMA in 1977-1978 “Won’t this just because a huge relief agency with other missions downgraded?” And of course that is exactly what has happened. Instead of seeing its mission as minmizing the need for disaster relief outlays, by emphazing resilence, mitigation, prevention and preparedness capabilities, it continues to downgrade and ignore those programs, functions, and activities. ATM’s did not exist in the time of the “Golden Fleece” but it certainly is true that FEMA is now the ATM for many state and local governors. FEMA does not collect good statistical data but my guess is the the Gubernator will be seeing and hoping for more disaster declarations for his state. The feds reward lack of preparedness.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 26, 2009 @ 8:32 am

I should have written something closer to, “first death by gunfire” in a decade. Thanks for raising the question and encouraging greater attention to accuracy. The list of those CBP agents who have died in the line of duty is available at http://www.odmp.org/agency/4830-united-states-department-of-homeland-security—customs-and-border-protection—border-patrol-u.s.-government.

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