Sunday, October 24, 2004

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has opened a new Border Patrol academy in Artesia, N.M., consolidating for the first time training activities for the agency that previously had been spread among New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner dedicated the facility during ceremonies Thursday, saying the Border Patrol had operated “for far too long” under a fragmented system of facilities and training depots.

“The Border Patrol is the sole law-enforcement agency within CBP with the tremendous responsibility to protect the homeland from terrorists and their terrorist weapons between the ports of entry,” Mr. Bonner said. “This hallmark effort to consolidate the educational assets and expertise at a centralized location will be an extraordinary benefit to the caliber of agents and the specialized training our new agents receive.”

Mr. Bonner said the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center will host the Border Patrol Academy at its Artesia training center, which will be responsible for addressing the basic and advanced training needs of more than 11,000 Border Patrol agents nationwide.

He said new agents must complete a rigorous, 19-week training program that includes courses in anti-terrorism, U.S. immigration and drug laws, criminal law and statutory authority, behavioral science, intensive Spanish-language training, the care and use of firearms, physical training and motor vehicle operations.

The academy’s location, he said, provides “a unique environment similar to the Southwest border where many agents initially are assigned due to the vast amount of illegal migration and illegal drug smuggling.”

“The Border Patrol academy and its instructors provide some of the best law-enforcement training in the world,” Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said.

“Combining all of our tested methodologies and best practices under one roof allows us to more effectively and efficiently provide an advanced training environment that enables our agents to reach that state of readiness, that state of professionalism their fellow agents can depend on in the field and, more importantly, the American people depend on at home,” Mr. Aguilar said.

Currently, more than 11,000 Border Patrol agents are protecting more than 6,000 miles of international boundary between the established ports of entry with Mexico and Canada. Often operating in very remote locations without immediate support or real-time tactical intelligence, the agents arrested more than 1.1 million people last year attempting to enter the United States illegally and seized more than 684 tons of narcotics with an estimated value of $11 billion.

CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of the nation’s borders at and between the land and sea ports of entry. It is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country, while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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