The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released a revised use of force policy handbook that reflects recommendations made by third-party reviews of CBP procedures. The revisions are designed to strengthen the operating principle that CBP agents only use force when necessary, and only use the needed amount of force, and no more, when force is warranted.
“We initiated both internal and external use of force reviews to improve ourselves and our responsibility to the public and to use force only when necessary,” Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement accompanying the release. Kerlikowske took over his position in March.
One of the key changes in the updated handbook is that it institutes a requirement to carry less-lethal devices, in according with operational needs. Examples of less-lethal devices include less lethal specialty impact/chemical munitions, and a controlled tire deflation device that is specifically engineered to enhance public safety. In addition, the updated handbook now also requires additional training in the use of safe tactics.
The revised handbook incorporates most of the recommendations found in reviews conducted by third parties – the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. CBP is releasing the consultant study conducted by the PERF.
“This release and, most importantly, the policy and training changes they represent, are the beginning of a continuous review of our responsibility to only use force when it is necessary to protect people,” Kerlikowske said.
In addition to updating the handbook, CBP is currently undertaking a comprehensive review and redesign of its basic training curriculum; establishing a center of excellence to continuously evaluate use of force policy and procedures; installing border fence training venues; and purchasing use of force training simulator systems designed to provide officers and agents with a more realistic and job specific training experience.
“Before my confirmation, I told Congress that transparency, responsiveness, and communication are my hallmarks. I committed to an open dialogue between CBP and its stakeholders,” Kerlikowske said. “Today’s actions on CBP’s policies address my priorities for the agency and are a significant step in CBP’s continuing progress.”
The revised handbook can be found at: http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/UseofForcePolicyHandbook.pdf