Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a report on the agency’s use of force policies and practices completed over a year ago by a respected independent think tank, the Police Executive Research Forum, along with a revised Use of Force Policies Handbook that incorporates the report’s recommendations. The release comes after public pressure from border communities and on the heels of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the ACLU.
The report includes a review of 67 cases between January 2010 and October 2012. At least 28 people have died since January 2010 as a result of lethal force encounters with CBP officials. Ten of these individuals were confirmed U.S. citizens, and six, including three minors, were standing in Mexico when fatally shot. At least nine people were allegedly throwing rocks when CBP personnel responded with lethal force. The report also includes recommendations for how CBP can revise its use of force policy to reduce fatalities and abuses, while bringing its practices into line with best law enforcement practices.
“The release of these two documents hopefully heralds a new and welcomed age of transparency for the agency,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico's Regional Center for Border Rights. “It will still be important to see how these revised policies on use of force are translated into training and the agency will require monitoring to ensure that agents who violate these new policies are held accountable. Also, we hope that there will be more transparency in future use-of-force investigations and closure is still need for the family members of previous use of force incidents, such as in the cases of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, Anastacio Hernandez Rojas, and Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.”
“The revised policies issued today are a step in the right direction,” said Ruthie Epstein, policy analyst at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “But on their own, they will not be enough. CBP should take further steps to ensure accountability and transparency. Equipping Border Patrol agents with body-worn cameras will ensure an unbiased record and allow the agency and the community to ensure that these new and improved policies are fully implemented in practice, as well as on paper.”
The ACLU’s recommendations regarding use of force are available here: https://www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/aclu-use-force-recommendations-cbp-officers
The report is available here: http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/PERFReport.pdf
The new use of force handbook is available here: http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/UseofForcePolicyHandbook.pdf