President Barack Obama's appointees at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) directorate on Friday sent a memorandum to Border Patrol agents instructing them to exercise restraint when illegal aliens on either side of the United States-Mexican border are throwing rocks or debris at Border agents or are escaping in getaway cars, according to an intradepartmental memorandum.
"I want to commend Chief Michael Fisher on his directive on the use of safe tactics and techniques released today, which provides further guidance to the Border Patrol workforce to lessen the likelihood of deadly force situations as we meet our dual goals of ensuring the safety and security of our dedicated agents as well as the public that they serve. I also support and commend his commitment to continue to assess the need for operational adjustments, dictated by situations in the field," said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
In his memo to his subordinates, Chief Fisher stated that his agents should take cover when confronted by
people throwing rocks or other projectiles at them. He also said in the memo that Border Patrol agents should not shoot at fleeing cars or trucks and he reminded them of the departmental policy prohibiting agents from placing themselves in front of speeding vehicles and shooting at them.
"Agents have been assaulted with rocks 1,713 times since 2010 and have responded with deadly force 43 times, resulting in 10 deaths," Fisher stated in his four-page memorandum.
The memo was written and promulgated to all of the more than 21,000 Border Patrol personnel, especially those who are patrolling rural areas such as the desert in Arizona where single-officer vehicle patrols are common and backup assistance difficult.
The memorandum and subsequent re-issuing of the Border Patrol's use of deadly physical force policy are the result of complaints made against the department's agents by so-called civil-liberties and human-rights organizations. For example, the director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Fernando Garcia, has been contacting liberal-left members of congress who are sympathetic to the "plight" of illegal aliens.
“There has always been a rush to blame Border Patrol agents for rock assaults that end in the suspect being shot and killed. These suspects chose to be criminals and to assault Border Patrol agents and they are to blame. If you don’t throw rocks at Border Patrol agents, you won’t be shot,” said Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) in response to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) study upon which the new use-of-force memorandum is based.
Newly appointed recruits are being instructed at the federal law enforcement academy on how to control confrontations, while veteran agents will receive training annually, according to the CBP.
The secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, also released redacted versions of the use-of-force policies that apply to all of his department and specialized policies for two of its agencies, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"The NBPC will never stop fighting for the ability of Border Patrol agents to defend themselves against all types of assaults," said Moran, a life-long law enforcement officer.