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Commissioner Kerlikowske’s Remarks at the Change of Command Ceremony for U.S. Border Patrol Chief Dan Harris

Release Date: 
July 19, 2016

Thank you, Deputy Chief [Greg] Burwell. I’m delighted to be here in Artesia [New Mexico] today to mark such an important occasion – honoring Chief Dan M. Harris, Jr. as the new Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Academy.

I’d like to welcome members of Dan’s family, including his wife (Katrina), his children (Dan and Halee) and his parents (Dan Sr. and Mary), along with his

in-laws (Bea and Lee Levy), his sisters (Nina and Leanna), and their husbands (James Reid and Chris Herzog).I’d also like to recognize our other honored guests:

  • Chief Superintendent Kevin Jones of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (DEPOT-Academy);
  • Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw;
  • FLETC Director Connie Patrick;
  • FLETC Site Director Terry Todd (Artesia);

From CBP’s Office of Training and Development, let me recognize:

  • Assistant Commissioner Chris Hall; and
  • Executive Director Jeff Fuller.

And from the United States Border Patrol, I’d like to recognize:

  • Chief Mark Morgan – and let me note, here, that just within days of taking command of the Border Patrol as Chief, Mark is here in Artesia … where it all begins for every agent; and
  • Deputy Chief Ronald Vitiello – whom I want to thank and recognize for his superb leadership, particularly over the past 8 months as Acting Chief of the Border Patrol.

I also want to recognize Chief Patrol Agents Paul Beeson; Rudy Karisch; Rick Barlow; Jeff Self; Jesse Shaw; and Acting Chief Patrol Agent Tony Holladay.

We have so many of our great friends and partners here today, please forgive me for those I may have missed.

Before I praise Chief Harris’ accomplishments, I want to share a bit of his personal family background with you. Chief Harris is a sixth-generation law enforcement officer. Think about that for a minute – that’s well more than a century of law enforcement “DNA” – so it’s probably an understatement to say he was born into this career path.

Commissioner Kerlikowske (l.) and U.S. Border Patrol Chief Dan Harris
Commissioner Kerlikowske (l.) and U.S. Border
Patrol Chief Dan Harris

Chief Harris is also the 14th officer in his family – and was named in honor of his great-grandfather who was shot and killed in the line of duty as a Texas Ranger. He’s also a teacher and a mentor; in fact, before he joined the U.S. Border Patrol, he was a San Angelo Texas police officer and Instructor for the South Plains College Criminal Justice Education Center.

So, we’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have his talents at CBP.

Chief Harris has risen through the ranks with the U.S. Border Patrol starting with Class 286 in 1995. From his first duty assignment at the El Paso Station as a trainee to his last assignment as Chief Patrol Agent in Blaine, Washington, Chief Harris has dedicated his career and life to the betterment of our agency and profession. He’s worked tirelessly on the evolution and development of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Response Programs evolving them into one of the best programs in the nation. He also served on the transition team that helped stand up the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

In short, Chief Harris is a true leader in integration, teamwork, community engagement, and partnership.

These many and varied accomplishments make Dan uniquely qualified for the position of Chief of the Border Patrol Academy – a post that carries tremendous responsibilities.

The Border Patrol Academy here in Artesia is regarded as one of the toughest Federal Law Enforcement Academies in the United States.

It rightly prides itself in producing highly motivated and well prepared trainees who will continue their education in the field.

Our nation’s front line – as guardians of our borders – begins right here.

As recent events have shown, this is a critical – and challenging – time for the law enforcement profession. Providing top notch professional training to new Border Patrol Agents is of the utmost importance. CBP is currently enhancing our basic training programs and the USBP Academy. The entire Border Patrol Agent basic training curriculum is being re-designed to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the most effective methods and tools – maintaining CBP’s position as a world-class law enforcement organization.

Specifically, the new curriculum incorporates recommendations from several Use of Force Reviews; from the 21st Century Policing Report; and from the CBP Integrity Advisory Panel report. It also includes recommendations from field operations and suggestions from NGOs.

Significantly, the new curriculum represents a transition from traditional teaching methods to student-centric, performance-based training. To address these issues and accommodate the performance-based methodology, the program length is being increased by 88 hours bringing the total to 117 days of training.

Finally, I’d like to take a few moments to comment on the recent tragedies involving police officers. I mentioned earlier how challenging it is to be a law enforcement professional in this country – probably never more so than it is today.

So remembering our fallen brothers and sisters is at the forefront of everything we do – including our training here in Artesia.

Quite simply, we must honor the fallen by providing the most outstanding training to the living.

Under Chief Harris’ steady hand, I am confident that the Academy will continue to serve as the finest foundation for producing the best-qualified agents to keep our nation and its borders safe and secure.

In closing, let me congratulate Dan on his new post as Chief of the United States Border Patrol Academy. It’s truly an honor to participate in your swearing-in today. Thank you.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017