The use of deadly force by U.S. Border Patrol agents against immigrants attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border has long been criticized by civil rights groups and similar organizations.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, actions of the Border Patrol have resulted in at least 19 deaths since 2010. After a study by the inspector general, it was revealed that many agents don’t fully understand the Border Patrol’s policies. This report by the inspector general, as well as a review from an outside agency and an internal audit, has prompted the Border Patrol to introduce new measures, including new dashboard cameras and an overhaul of Border Patrol basic agent training.
The dashboard cameras are part of a pilot program that may also include lapel cameras attached to the agents’ uniforms. In addition, the agency says it has plans to change how use-of-force training is conducted and how the agency tracks use-of-force incidents.
The agency’s commissioner, Thomas Winkowski, has said that he agrees with all recommendations and the concerns that prompted them. Winkowski also said that the Border Patrol will continue to evaluate the use-of-force among its agents as to best ensure both the safety of the agents and the public with whom they interact.
One of the specific measures being introduced includes additional training on agents who are subjected to rock throwers, although it doesn’t impose restrictions on agents who fire at immigrants who throw rocks at them.
The use of deadly force against rock throwers continues to be one of the agency’s biggest criticisms, as it has been reported by the ACLU that no less than eight people were killed by agents in rock throwing incidents since 2010. Of the 185 rock assaults in 2012, for example, it was reported that agents responded with gunfire 12 percent of the time.
The ACLU notes that the Border Patrol’s policy and training changes are important to the advancement of the agency, yet remain “limited in scope and vision.”
The Border Patrol’s upgraded training programs will include more training days with real-life scenarios.