Gil Kerlikowske, U.S. commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, released for the first time the full text of its handbook on the use of force by border agents, as well as a report by an outside group that was sharply critical of the agency's conduct in cases where agents' force had resulted in deaths, the New York Times reports. Kerlikowske said he was publicizing the documents to show his commitment to new “openness and transparency” at the agency, which he took over in March.
For many months, migrant advocacy organizations and journalists had pressed for the release of the documents, including report by the Police Executive Research Forum commissioned by the agency and completed in February 2013. PERF examined 67 episodes from January 2010 through October 2012 where deadly force had been used, mainly by Border Patrol agents along the Southwest border. The report focused particularly on incidents where agents had responded by shooting when they were attacked with rocks or when they were attempting to stop smugglers' vehicles carrying illegal border crossers or drugs. The review identified “laxity of reporting” of rock-throwing, finding that agents were only reporting the most serious attacks they faced. It also found a “lack of diligence” by the agency in investigating episodes where deadly force had been used. “Too many cases do not appear to meet the test of objective reasonableness with regard to the use of deadly force,” the report said.