-Caveat Lector-

Explorer program aids Border Patrol

Agent says posts teach responsibility, aren't used to fill recruiting quotas

11/20/2000
Associated Press

HOUSTON ­ A program affiliated with the Boy Scouts that teaches teenagers
how to handle weapons and hostage situations is proving to be a boon for
the Border Patrol, which is struggling to recruit 1,000 new agents a year.

There are nine Explorer Scout posts along the Texas-Mexico border
sponsored by the Border Patrol. In all, the Boy Scouts have established 20
law enforcement Explorer posts in the five southernmost Texas counties.

Agents like Cruz J. Rodriguez, chief patrol agent at the 180-officer
Border Patrol station in Port Isabel, volunteer to help run the posts.

He said the posts are intended to teach teens responsibility and
decision-making skills and are not meant to bolster the agency's
recruiting quotas.

"It was intended as a way for the Border Patrol to get involved with the
youth of the community, and as it evolved through the years, a lot of the
kids show an interest in applying for the Border Patrol, so it's a win-win
situation," Agent Rodriguez said in Sunday's editions of the Houston
Chronicle.

Scouting officials said as many as 400 high school students have joined
Explorer posts in the region.

The teens receive basic training on how to make traffic stops and arrests,
execute search warrants, lift fingerprints and investigate crime scenes.

Many Explorers also receive supervised firearm instruction with weapons
provided by their sponsors.

"It's something that intrigues a lot of kids who may, or may not, see
college as part of their future," said Steve Gerber, director of the Rio
Grande Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

"There is so much law enforcement in the Valley, both state and federal,
that it's very visible and for the most part presents a positive image in
the community."

Agent Eddie Buyo said the program offers youths a possible career path.

"There's not a lot of industry down here as far as big corporations," he
said. "So law enforcement, to them, is one of the biggest employers, one
of the better paying jobs, one of the most respected jobs."

To qualify for work at the Border Patrol, candidates must be at least 18
with one year of experience, or be a college graduate. Recruits earn a
base salary of $28,400 during a 20-week training academy, and the pay is
raised once they are assigned to a station.

Marcos Carreon, 17, said it was the lawman image that attracted him to the
program.

"I'm interested in enforcement because, like, you look tough with your gun
and everything, like your uniform," the 11th-grader said. "Right now I'm
learning the basics. So, that way, when I go to college, I will already
have learned what it takes to be in the Border Patrol."
/

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