DHS to replace military-style uniforms for federal police officers

The Department of Homeland Security is moving "rapidly to replace" uniforms used by some of its federal law enforcement personnel after criticism over the mi...

Posted: Aug 4, 2020 5:09 PM

The Department of Homeland Security is moving "rapidly to replace" uniforms used by some of its federal law enforcement personnel after criticism over the military-style gear used by officers in Portland, Oregon, a senior department official said Tuesday.

Some Customs and Border Protection personnel, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, have worn camouflage tactical uniforms while policing in Portland, according to DHS. Concern grew in recent weeks about the blurring of law enforcement and military personnel.

Top Pentagon officials have said they wanted this change.

Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the Homeland Security deputy secretary, outlined the change in written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"DHS law enforcement officers who interact with crowds are all identifiable both by their law enforcement agency and individually. They are in their respective uniform, with appropriate insignia -- to include the words 'POLICE' as well identifying the agency for which they work," Cuccinelli's testimony stated. "The names of agents are no longer displayed, as they are the target of recent doxing incidents, which puts both them and their families in grave danger. To address concerns about military-like appearance of some of Customs Border Protection's officers' uniforms, which are the normal uniforms used by some CBP teams in the course of regular duty, we are moving rapidly to replace those uniforms for those personnel."

CBP officers "came with what they had," Cuccinelli added during the hearing, adding that "we have moved as quickly as we could to procure for them what you think of as the solid green CBP uniform."

For more than two months, protesters took to the streets in Portland, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests in Portland escalated after the Trump administration sent federal agents into the city, ostensibly to protect federal property.

During the Senate hearing Tuesday, Republican and Democratic senators clashed over protests, underscoring the rift among the two parties about the situation that at times involved violent clashes between federal agents and protestors.

Cuccinelli defended the administration's actions, repeatedly distinguishing between rioters and protestors. At one point he brought out a laser pointer to demonstrate the danger to officers' eyes.

The events that unfolded in the city became a touchpoint in the debate over protests and who they're composed of. The title of the hearing -- "The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence" -- set the tone.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who chaired the subcommittee hearing, criticized the "leftist" and "anarchists" groups who he alleged exploited the cause.

"Americans rightly and peaceably assembled to demand justice," the Republican senator said. "What began as legitimate protests against a vile act of abuse sadly were soon hijacked by opportunities and violent radicals."

Critics argue, however, that the increased federal presence aggravated the situation on the ground in Portland, fueling protests that had largely been peaceful.

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono denounced the title of the hearing. "The hearing we should be having is one called 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble without being beaten up by unidentifiable federal agents. That would address an actual problem," Hirono, a Democrat, said, following Cruz's opening remarks.

The statements by both senators were indicative of the competing narratives and tensions that have arisen over the matter, with Portland serving as the epicenter.

The Trump administration reached an agreement with Oregon's Democratic governor to withdraw federal officers from downtown Portland last week, though the Trump administration said it will maintain a presence in the city until it believes federal locations there are secure.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people peacefully gathered at the federal courthouse -- the epicenter of the previous clashes -- for the 66th night of Black Lives Matter protests, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

DHS came under fire last week for gathering and distributing intelligence reports on journalists covering the Portland protests.

On Sunday, Politico reported that Cuccinelli had signed off on limiting internal oversight into the products produced by DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

In response to questioning from Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Cuccinelli said he signed a memo that gave more authority to the under secretary of the intelligence office, removing the deputy secretary -- himself -- from the review process. In the past, the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties could appeal to the deputy secretary if there was a disagreement about whether an intelligence report was appropriate to be distributed.

"The purpose was to contain it all within the (Intelligence and Analysis) under secretariat and the belief at that time is that is an ordinarily Senate-confirmed position," he said.

The Senate-confirmed Under Secretary David Glawe left office earlier this year, leaving an acting official in his place. That official, Brian Murphy, was recently reassigned.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 195684

Reported Deaths: 2587
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38714593
Washington25787233
Marion22229308
Clackamas17677214
Lane13128149
Jackson10953140
Deschutes918074
Umatilla823684
Linn501768
Klamath450664
Yamhill449676
Polk378853
Malheur353063
Josephine337071
Douglas329871
Benton312720
Jefferson222037
Coos208935
Columbia175929
Union145123
Lincoln138821
Wasco138128
Hood River119631
Crook113822
Morrow111116
Clatsop9948
Baker95914
Tillamook6523
Curry64610
Grant5236
Lake4557
Harney3488
Wallowa1855
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
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California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3768805

Reported Deaths: 62690
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123741124115
Riverside2997934594
San Bernardino2971654724
San Diego2790983742
Orange2712515031
Santa Clara1190602096
Kern1092981376
Sacramento1049581691
Fresno1019571690
Alameda881481668
Ventura810331017
San Joaquin733101394
Contra Costa68976805
Stanislaus622491061
Tulare49830840
Monterey43662383
San Mateo42059570
San Francisco36795546
Santa Barbara34391459
Solano32974253
Merced31919461
Sonoma30067321
Imperial28504729
Kings23017246
Placer22688292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16482242
Santa Cruz16264206
Marin14079227
Yolo13932211
Shasta12175226
Butte12095192
El Dorado10193113
Napa988782
Sutter9441113
Yuba628549
San Benito606863
Lassen570624
Tehama559063
Nevada475575
Tuolumne413967
Mendocino410849
Humboldt408042
Amador366647
Lake348543
Glenn240025
Siskiyou225525
Colusa223616
Calaveras213654
Inyo142838
Del Norte13988
Mono12844
Plumas7186
Modoc5014
Mariposa4507
Trinity4025
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