An Award That Should be Commended

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

A month ago, the U.S. Border Patrol announced the creation of an award for those Border Patrol agents who can do their job without the use of deadly force. The award, called the Use of Deadly Force Encounter Averted Award, recognizes those agents who do their jobs without the use of unnecessary deadly force. With the development of new weaponry and technologies which help not only police but also federal agents avoid the use of deadly force, it makes sense that now there are ways and means to help U.S. Border Patrol agents avoid the use of deadly force when an agent’s life is not in danger.

This may seem like an arbitrary measurement of what is and is not acceptable. It is not so arbitrary. In 2012, a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired 12 shots at an unarmed 16 year old boy named Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez who was in Mexico at the time—killing him instantly. The agent had killed the boy while the boy was in Mexico. There was no evidence the boy was a threat, and certainly no evidence that the agent’s life was in any danger. This act alone became one of the most infamous episodes in the history of the U.S. Border Patrol, and blackened its reputation. After this and other suspicious incidents of “suspects being shot in the back,” the U.S. Border Patrol was held up to the same scrutiny that local and state police are held up to.

No law enforcement agency—be it the police or the U.S. Border Patrol—should ever be exempted from using deadly force when the occasion does not warrant it. This is why this award is a good example for Border Patrol agents to emulate. Deadly force should be used as a last resort, and all law enforcement has been trained when and when not to use deadly force and where it is justified. This award I am convinced will help in this effort.

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