Commissioner Alan Bersin on June 9 testifying about border corruption issues before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Donna Burton

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is going to send its own internal affairs investigators to work with the Homeland Security's Inspector General under a new agreement designed to streamline efforts to detect and stop corruption within the ranks.

As I wrote about on Aug. 14 — Border corruption cases grow — there has been an upswing in corruption cases within the agency over the past six years, coinciding with an unprecedented hiring boom set into motion during the mid-2000s that doubled the size of the Border Patrol and increased the total number of employees in Customs and Border Protection by 44 percent.

While emphasizing that the 127 employees arrested nationwide on corruption, bribery or civil-rights charges since fiscal year 2004 are a fraction of the agency's 58,981 employees, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said the agency takes the issue very seriously.

"We pride ourself on being a family. However, when of our own strays into criminality, we do not forgive him or her," Bersin said at a June 9 hearing in front of a Senate committee. "This breach of trust is something we do not stand for."

During that hearing, Bersin and Homeland Security Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards were asked about past conflicts between the two agencies in handling such investigations. Bersin acknowledged the rift and told the panel that he and Edwards were working to smooth things over.

Last week's signing of this agreement is the next step in that process. In a press release, Bersin said the agreement will lead to more "aggressive" investigations and allow the agency to more quickly resolve "unmeritorious allegations" against Customs and Border Protection employees.