United States customs officials have been instructed to stop opening fire on rock throwers and moving vehicles as part of a new set of policies.
Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher announced on Friday that agents aren't allowed to block the path of a moving vehicle to start shooting at the driver, the Los Angeles Times reported. Opening fire at cars during a chase is also banned under the new policies, which reverse previous rules that reportedly led to the deaths of more than 19 people.
Fisher said this week that agents must duck for cover or increase their distance from the rock throwers instead. The only time border patrol officials can open fire is if the rock or object being thrown "poses an imminent danger of death or serious injury."
The shift in policy comes one week after the United States Customs and Border Protection conducted a analysis on 67 instances of shootings between 2010 and 2012 along the country's borders. The group's recommendations to tighten up on shooting restrictions initially were rejected.
But Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson urged the Border Patrol to think about the policy once more, after the Los Angeles Times reported that the Police Executive Research Forum found some officers purposely put themselves in front of moving vehicles to rationalize their opening fire.
Johnson wrote in a statement on Friday that the new rules should "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."
Democrat on the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration and border security Rep. Zoe Lofgren regarded the guidelines as a "big step forward."
"When there are incidents in terms of injury or even death, there needs to be transparent investigations and there needs to be a public resolution of what they found," Lofgren told the Times.