After a challenging first year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske outlined several significant advances introduced under his leadership during an April 8 address at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.Commissioner Kerlikowske, who took the agency helm in March 2014, focused his remarks on developments in trade, travel and transparency by CBP, the world’s first full-service border security agency.

One of the Commissioner’s most distinct achievements during his tenure has been in the area of agency transparency, notably presenting the first comprehensive CBP strategic plan in almost a decade.

CBP’s Vision and Strategy 2020 “clearly recognizes that CBP must balance border security with enhancing our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske during his remarks. “These are two sides of the same coin.”

One root of his agency’s success lies in collaboration to meet mission goals. “We intend to lead and aggressively champion strategic partnerships,” said the Commissioner, “to facilitate integrated, risk-informed and intelligence-driven law enforcement operations.” These partnerships stretch across nations, governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

Commissioner Kerlikowske has met regularly with representatives of varied business sectors to expand collaboration and compliance with U.S. laws. And the private sector is a very willing partner. “The trade community wants to ensure that what they bring into the country is safe,” said the Commissioner.

When shippers agree to uphold CBP security standards, they turn away business that doesn’t rise to U.S. – and increasingly global – supply-chain-security standards. U.S. trade security relies on this close cooperation with the trade community. “With all the technology, it still comes down to that human factor,” said the Commissioner.

Commissioner Kerlikowske said he also intends “to make our policies and processes more transparent to the people we serve,” and spoke specifically of the agency’s use of force initiatives. “Every law enforcement agency is part of the ongoing and intense debate about how, when and where officers should use force,” said the Commissioner.

He noted that, after the first six months of fiscal year 2015, the agency is on track to reduce its total uses of force by nearly 30 percent. “There are times when some level of force must be used,” added Commissioner Kerlikowske. “In those instances, the use of force must be justified and within CBP policy.”

CBP will concentrate efforts on equipping its officers and agents with the tools and training they need for the correct, scalable and justifiable use of force. “The public’s trust in us depends on it,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske.

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