U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents are using firearms less often than in the past, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing data it obtained.
There were 15 instances last year in which border patrol agents used firearms, down from a high of 55 in 2012 and from 17 in 2017. There were 25 such instances in 2016, according to the AP.
Uses of less-lethal force, such as tear gas, batons or stun guns, were also down in 2018, the AP reported. According to the AP, there were 898 of those instances in 2018, down from a high of 1,168 in 2013.
Border agents last year came under scrutiny when they fired tear gas at a group of migrants attempting to cross the southern U.S. border. The group included families and children.
Agents again fired tear gas in December at a group of about 150 migrants who were trying to cross the border near Tijuana.
The decline comes after changes were made in recent years to how border patrol officers and agents administer uses of force. Following a 2013 audit by the Police Executive Research Forum, agents and officers now get 64 hours of training on the use of force and learn how to de-escalate tense situations, according to the AP.
Border patrol agents and officers are permitted to use deadly force when they have a reasonable belief that they or another person are in danger of serious physical injury or death, according to the AP.
The AP noted that the data it reviewed does not include instances in which off-duty officers and agents have used force.