Elementary School Students Learn How CBP Protects the Nation
Round Hill, Va. - A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Air and Marine agents and an Office of Information Technology (OIT) program manager showed students at Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Va., all of whom were born after 9-11, the importance of CBP border security work during a recent visit. The presentation was a part of the school's 'Star Spangled Banner Year' program to learn about people who protect the United States.
The students were eager to examine a Border Patrol agent's bullet proof vest and meet Hoss, a working CBP German Shepherd from the Canine Center in Front Royal.
Collin MacDonald, an OIT program manager and Round Hill resident, asked the students how many of them have seen Border Wars on television? A majority of the students raised their hands in delight having seen the series on National Geographic which shows actual footage of CBP's work on the frontline protecting the United States.
MacDonald explained the work of CBP's mission support personnel to provide computers, voice radios and tactical gear that the officers and agents use on the frontline to protect the country.
CBP Officer Paul Beaver explained how CBP protects our borders by air, land and sea. He indicated that people must show valid identification to come into the country and that CBP officers check what is brought into the country to ensure it is safe. He showed a video explaining the Office of Field Operations daily work at the ports of entry and explained how officers detect for radiation and use x-ray technology to look inside something without having to open it up. "We look for things that are counterfeit or fake," Beaver said. He also explained how agriculture specialists check for dangerous pests and diseases that could hurt our crops.
Border Patrol Agent John South showed the students a bullet proof vest and the tools of the trade from the vehicles they drive to night vision goggles in his video presentation.
South explained that he worked 10 years near Brownsville, Texas and worked on the Rio Grande River. He described the different types of patrol units used by the Border Patrol such as horse patrol, bike patrol units for inner city patrol, ATVs for rugged terrain and boat patrol on the rivers. He showed pictures to the students of U.S. Border Patrol's BORTAC team, the border tactical unit which operates as a national SWAT team and U.S. Border Patrol's BORSTAR, the search, trauma and rescue team. He also showed a video of the kind of training Border Patrol agents receive at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M. After showing his video presentation Agent South asked the students, "Who wants to join up?" Many of the K-1st graders raised their hands.
OAM Air Interdiction Agent Valerie McCarthy works at CBP headquarters in Washington, D.C. and has previously been stationed in Tucson, Ariz. During her presentation, she showed a video of OAM assets protecting the homeland and mentioned to the kids how she has flown on almost every aircraft type that Air and Marine has. She described how OAM supports local law enforcement. She described how "we can land anywhere even on the top of a big rock in the desert," as she showed the students a photo of a helicopter high up on a huge rock in the desert. She talked to them about CBP's marine program as well and told them how CBP's Midnight Express boat is one of the fastest vessels we have to track bad guys out in the water. She finished her presentation by showing the attentive children a map of the United States illustrating how CBP's air and marine units secure U.S. borders with our aircraft and boats.
Finally, as the highlight of the presentation, Border Patrol Agent Christopher Harvey brought in Hoss, a CBP working dog from the Canine Center in Front Royal. But they were very excited to meet him. A student was chosen from the audience to take a bag filled with shredded currency up on the stage. It was mixed in with other piece of luggage that were placed on the stage. Agent Harvey explained that Hoss has been trained to find large amounts of money and guns that people are trying to hide. Hoss was "right on the money". He passed over each piece of luggage before sitting directly in front of the bag with the currency. The kids were delighted and amazed. For Agent Harvey and Hoss it was just another example of the canine's ability to accurately detect illegal contraband similar to what they do on the frontline.
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.