San Diego CBP Components Successfully Conclude First Integrated Citizen's Academy
San Diego - On Saturday, November 5, 2011, CBP components in San Diego launched their first joint Citizen's Academy at the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector Headquarters.
Invitations were sent out to local community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), South Indian Health Council, San Diego Forum, San Diego Rural Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Community Watch Groups, and a non-profit San Diego human rights organization. Thirteen members from these groups were selected to participate in this unique experience.
San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Paul Beeson, San Diego Field Operations Director Christopher Maston, and San Diego Air and Marine Branch Director William Raymond opened the event and welcomed the group. Chief Beeson explained the CBP organizational structure, provided a historic perspective, and presented a nationwide view of Border Patrol apprehensions, drug seizures, and objectives. Chief Beeson told the group that citizens' academies are conducted to, "Enhance the public's understanding of CBP's mission and goals."
Director Maston illustrated the enormous amount of administrative and enforcement activities that occur daily at the ports of entry. He stated, "CBP Officers process about a quarter million people a day within the San Diego Field Office ports of entry." He explained that the ports of entry face the challenges of ensuring all trade and commerce laws are enforced without impeding the flow of legitimate trade and travel, while stopping transnational smuggling activities.
Director Raymond asked which students had watched the National Geographic TV show "Border Wars." Many responded affirmatively. He told the group, "that is an accurate depiction of what we do, and you will get a behind-the-scenes look at those different pieces." He also explained that his branch provides air support, maritime coverage, and surveillance. Additionally, air and marine assets protect the land border and coastline, and help detect people who have entered the U.S. illegally.
The purpose of the CBP Citizen's Academy is to provide citizens of the community with hands-on experience and instruction, which will better educate them about the functions and mission of CBP in San Diego.
This training took place over a five-week period divided into six sessions totaling 24 hours of instruction and activity. The training encompassed operations, technology, and field orientation, to give participants an inside look at CBP.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Steven Pitts who oversees the San Diego Sector Border Community Liaison Program, coordinated the Citizen's Academy. Supervisor Pitts remarked, "The Citizen's Academy fostered understanding and created an open dialogue with the community, which increases the transparency of CBP while aiding the flow of information throughout the community."
On the first day, participants were provided with an overview of the Citizen's Academy along with an outline of the expectations and parameters. Also covered were agency overviews, history, strategy, mission, and operations of the U.S. Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations, Office of Air and Marine and their integration within CBP and the Department of Homeland Security.
Participant Hector Vanegas with SANDAG said, "It was an honor to have received an invitation to the academy. I enjoyed learning the whole perspective of CBP."
Another participant, Steven Gomez with the South Indian Health Council said, "I believe that the academy helped to establish a trusting and proactive relationship with government agencies and first responders."
Additional sessions covered a wide range of CBP standards and complexities designed to provide the participants an understanding and appreciation of the law enforcement challenges CBP officers and agents face daily while securing the borders of the United States.
Citizen's Academy participants graduated on December 10, 2011, in front of friends and family who witnessed the ceremony where graduates received a certificate of completion and posed for photos with San Diego CBP personnel.
To contact the San Diego Sector Border Community Liaison Program Coordinator, please call (619) 216-4259.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping dangerous people and capabilities out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.