Cadets clash in CBP-Border Patrol program in Brownsville
July 2nd 2012 · 1 Comment
BROWNSVILLE — Wielding foam batons at would-be perpetrators – aiming just for the arms and legs to stop an attack – young men and women practiced subduing a suspect under a hot sun last week at the Fort Brown U.S. Border Patrol station.
They were learning federal law enforcement skills, but many of them are still in high school or early college.
They are among the 42 new graduates of the federal Explorers program in Brownsville, which seeks to teach the teenagers and young adults tactical and leadership skills.
This summer marks the first time since 2002 the Brownsville Port of Entry has had a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Explorers program.
Two separate Explorer programs are operated by the Border Patrol in Brownsville.
The Border Patrol and CBP Explorers programs train their cadets together in a two-week academy that started June 18 and ended Friday.
“They are trained to work under pressure,” said CBP officer Manuel Maldonado, a leader of the CBP Explorers.
The reinstated CBP Explorers program focuses on teaching how to handle inspections at ports of entry while also showing other duties, including making a felony arrest or using handcuffs.
“It takes discipline,” said Charlie Maxwell, a Border Patrol agent who supervises the Border Patrol Explorers. “They show up before 7 a.m.”
The cadets spent Wednesday doing various exercises, including subduing each other with the foam batons. Cadets playing the role of a suspect wore heavy black padding.
Those in the role of law enforcement officials are taught to strike the arms and legs rather than the head or spine, Maxwell said.
“Go for the legs. The legs!” instructors shouted at the cadets as they tried to fend off an attacker.
Maldonado said the Border Patrol and CBP train together but compete against each other in regional and state competitions.
“This is a great opportunity to work together under the same umbrella,” he said.
One 20-year-old cadet has spent four years as a Border Patrol Explorer with the goal of following in his father’s footsteps as a Border Patrol agent.
“I like the action,” he said.
A version of this column originally appeared in www.themonitor.com.
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