Border Patrol Revises Its Rulebook For Use Of Deadly Force

The U.S. Border Patrol announced changes to its policies regarding use of deadly force on Friday. It added new guidance for agents when dealing with moving vehicles and people throwing rocks.

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The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol wants agents to limit their use of deadly force. The Border Patrol says agents have killed 10 people since 2010, while the ACLU says that number is 27. NPR's Ted Robbins reports on a directive issued today that outlines new guidance for the use of force against rock throwers and vehicles.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: The Border Patrol is coming under heavy criticism over its use of force, including accusations that agents have stepped in front of vehicles trying to flee so they could open fire. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said on a conference call that he released a memo because his own agents have been asking him for clarification.

MICHAEL FISHER: Specifically when you look on page two, under the directive, I'm calling out two specific areas, the vehicles and the rocks.

ROBBINS: Fisher said he is telling supervisors to make sure they find other ways to stop vehicles.

FISHER: What I am doing is I am instructing them with this directive to explore and use alternative methodologies, such as setting up controlled tire deflation devices.

ROBBINS: People throw rocks over border fences to distract agents from drug or people smuggling going on nearby. Chief Fisher says agents should move away from the rock throwers and not fire unless the rocks are an imminent threat to an agent's safety. That's not what happened a year and a half ago, when an agent shot a 16-year-old boy 10 times through the border fence into Nogales, Sonora. The results of the U.S. investigation into that incident, or most other incidents, have not been released.

Brian Erickson is with the ACLU's Regional Center for Border Rights. He says that's necessary for real accountability.

BRIAN ERICKSON: We have no transparency there, and that's ultimately what we need, as well, to make sure that directives are followed in the field.

ROBBINS: A spokesman for the Border Patrol Agents Union agreed with the need for transparency. Others are calling for Border Patrol agents to use dashboard and lapel cameras to record incidents. Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

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