About a month ago, News Center 23 traveled to the training center where men and women earn their gold Border Patrol agent patch. News Center 23’s Adriana Candelaria was given an inside look at their training. Adriana brings you her special report entitled, “Boots on the Border”.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico is roughly 13,050 acres. Artesia is where the U.S. Border Patrol sends their recruits for basic training.
First Aid is just one of many skills learned here. Immigrants who are unconscious when agents find them are given such life saving aid.
The training academy’s Deputy Chief Greg Burwell said, “Our job is to get these agents ready to go out and secure the border, protect the people near the border and protect the country.”
In 66 days, if the trainees complete all their requirements and they already speak Spanish, they earn their gold Border Patrol Badge. “But if they don’t speak Spanish they stay and extra 40 days. Eight weeks of training to learn the Spanish that they need for the job.” Said Burwell.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia is the only of its kind in the country.
Trainees come here after they’ve passed interviews, tests and a polygraph exam with Border Patrol.
This place determines if the hopeful men and women will be able to fill the black boots and forest green uniform. It’s also a preview of what they will experience in their career.
Deputy Chief Burwell said, “We try to have a very realistic environment here at the Border Patrol Academy. That’s why you see here this fence that replicates very well what the fence would look like in San Diego or Arizona.”
After the training, agents are dispersed to the areas along the border that are the highest demand.
“Well the biggest need right now is what we call The Rio Grande Valley sector.” added Burwell.
The dry and mountainous land from Artesia slowly transforms into the vivid brush that we know in the Rio Grande Valley. The two are nearly 11 hours driving distance apart.
About 300 miles north of Hidalgo County, at the state capitol, sits an item on Texas Lawmaker’s agenda for 2017 legislative session. It’s the request of $300 million dollars more from taxpayers for the Texas Department of Public Safety to uphold its mission of securing the border.
According to our media partners, the Texas Tribune, the $300 million extra would hire hundreds more troopers.
Trooper Maria Martinez with the Texas DPS Recruiting Department says requirements to become a State Trooper is be to 21 years old. Martinez is one of the regional recruiters in Weslaco. She spends her time talking to prospective cadets. She says the academy is in Austin and takes 24 weeks to complete.
News Center 23 requested permission from the Texas Department of Public Safety Media and Communications Office in Austin to give you an inside look at how cadets become troopers. Exactly the way we did with U.S. Border Patrol.
At the time of this report Texas DPS was not able to comment on the availability of showing how recruits are trained. Permission to do so takes time to approve. A practice test for trooper trainees can be seen at joindps.com. It also shows physical requirements needed. It does not specify how training would be if deployed to the border.
Trooper Martinez says, “It’s all very intense. It’s pretty much a pre-military style academy so they’re going to break them physically, mentally and academically they have to maintain an 80% in the academics.
Right now, Trooper Martinez says DPS classes are reaching up to 170 cadets. Once they become troopers, they’ll be sent to the priority areas for the department.
In January 2017, Texas lawmakers will decide whether they’ll approve the increased budget and if we’ll be seeing more troopers along the RGV border.