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Border Patrol Academy: Federal Law Enforcement Training at its BestBorder Patrol Academy
Once you have passed the selection process of the U.S. Customs Border Protection Agency, you are now officially a Border Patrol Agent!
Now it’s time to attend the Border Patrol Academy. All new recruits are sent to the CBP Border Patrol Academy for 58 days of exciting training.
Located in Artesia, New Mexico the Academy provides new hires with the instruction and law enforcement training that will empower you to do your job effectively and safely.
Aside from providing instruction in integrated law, firearms, vehicle, and physical training, the Academy has a highly effective Language Training program for Agents not yet fluent in Spanish. You must pass all the courses at the Border Patrol Academy in order to be retained as a CBP agent but with the right guidance you certainly can!
Knowing what the Border Patrol Academy will be like in advance will help. The Border Patrol Registration Package will give you a detailed explanation of what to expect and how to get ready. Now that you know exactly what to expect, you are able to prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally for the training program. Your mindset is such that you are ready to take on the toughest challenges with the intention of passing it with flying colors.
You can start getting in physical shape so that the grueling physical training regimen will not catch you off-guard. You can also start learning the basics of Spanish so that you are going to be at least familiar with the structure of the language when you start Academy training. These preparations, among others, can get you psyched up to face the challenges you’ll be proud to overcome in the Academy.
U.S. Border Patrol Academy is federal law enforcement training at its best. But that does not mean that you can’t do it. Preparation starts with knowledge and reading the next sections will give you an idea of what awaits you at the Border Patrol Academy.
Border Patrol Academy: Courses and Curriculum
The curriculum at the Border Patrol Academy is divided into five areas: 1) Academy Law; 2) Firearms Training; 3) Physical Techniques; 4) Driver Training; and 5) Spanish Task Based Language Training Program.
All these components are meant to teach and train new recruits into becoming the most effective border patrol agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. Crammed into a short span of 58 days you can expect instruction that’s fast-paced and challenging.
There are five subject areas covered in the academy law program. These are Nationality Law, Immigration Law, Applied Authority, Operations 1, and Operations 2.
In Nationality Law, recruits are taught how to determine difference between an alien, a citizen of the U.S., or a national of the U.S. Immigration Law then takes their knowledge further by teaching them how to verify the classification of aliens, determine the legality of their status, recognizing their violations, and initiating the appropriate course of action to take.
Violations of Federal criminal statues as well as the primary regulations and court decisions where a Border Patrol Agent gets his or her authority to act in a given situation are discussed in Applied Authority class. The course also teaches them on the type of action to take—whether they will act on the violation or refer it to another agency that holds primary jurisdiction. In the two Operations classes, new recruits are taught the tasks that agents do in the field through practical labs where they can get the hands-on training to fully prepare them for the tasks on the field.
Border Patrol Agents are required to carry firearms. In the Academy, you will be given proper instruction in range safety, survival shooting techniques, judgment pistol shooting, quick point and instinctive reaction shooting. They will be given classroom training and practice sessions in the range for the Heckler & Koch P2000 Handgun, the Remington 870 Shotgun, and the Colt Arms M4 Carbine Rifle. All trainees are issued a fake sidearm from the day they start Academy training. They must not play with it but rather treat it like a real weapon.
Border Patrol Agents hold highly respected and demanding jobs. They must be physically fit to handle duties in the field. The Physical Techniques Program is meant to train and condition new agents physically and psychologically considering the fact that the nature of their duties demands it. They apprehend violators of immigration and nationality laws, performing their duties in rural areas often on foot, and respond to dangerous situations. As such, they need to be trained to deal with individuals who are armed and dangerous.
Physical training involves teaching agents to successfully react to environmental or manmade obstacles and dangerous situations in a manner that minimizes the likelihood of injury not only to themselves but to innocent individuals as well. The program psychologically conditions trainees to be confident in their own physical ability and to react positively to physically strenuous situations. At the same time, they are also taught to maintain a keen awareness of their own physical limitations. Training also aims to inculcate in each agent the importance of physical fitness so that they will maintain it even after they have left the Academy.
Before recruits can graduate from the Border Patrol Academy, they are required to take the final physical fitness test. If they fail any part of it, they fail the course and as such they will not be able to graduate. The test, which consists of three timed events, must be taken and passed in one class period. Recruits must pass the 1.5 mile run in 13 minutes or less; the confidence course in 2.5 minutes; and the 220 yard dash in 46 seconds or less.
An equally-important component of the curriculum in the Border Patrol Academy is Driver Training. As you know, agents are often assigned in areas where the road conditions are extreme and inhospitable. Thus, they have to be equipped with the necessary skills in maneuvering and handling vehicles so that they can perform their monitoring, interdiction, and apprehension duties effectively.
In the Driver Training Program, emphasis is given on the principles and techniques relating to laws of motion, vehicle dynamics, and driver response. They are also taught to recognize the limitations of their vehicles. Before they can graduate, they must pass the basic course on Van/Utility Vehicle Operation, Skid Control, and Emergency Response. Once the agent has passed these three basic areas, he or she will be given further instruction in more advanced topics such as Pursuit Driving, Low-Risk and High-Risk Vehicle Stops, Night Driving, 4×4 Off Road Driving, and SUV/Van Evasive Driving.
The final component of the Border Patrol curriculum is for those who do not yet speak Spanish when accepted as a new recruit of the U.S Border Patrol. Learning how to speak and understand Spanish is a critical element of the job of a Border Patrol Agent because most of the aliens who attempt to cross the U.S. border speak only this language. Statistics show that more than 90 percent of the over one million undocumented aliens apprehended by the Border Patrol speak only Spanish.
The Task-Based Spanish Language Training Program is an 8-week course focusing on critical Border Patrol-specific tasks that begins right after the 58-day training program of the four courses described above. Recruits are taught to employ law enforcement-specific language unique to their work while helping them to solicit information and use colloquial phrases and idiomatic expressions. Instructors use modern methods to enable the recruits to learn their second language in that short time span.
Now that you know what the courses and curriculum are at the Border Patrol Academy, you get the idea of the exciting life that awaits you.
Border Patrol Academy: What to Bring and What to Leave Behind
If you are already set to attend training at the Border Patrol Academy, you are probably wondering what things you need to bring for a great stay there. The items we list below are basics: not an exhaustive list. Also, you do have to remember that your gear will depend on your specific needs. That being said, here are some things that you may want to pack in your bag before you arrive at the Academy:
- Several white V-neck shirts and casual classroom-style polo shirts.
- Slacks or khaki pants, jeans, shorts. You won’t need a lot of these clothes (1 and 2) once you start wearing your uniform which will usually be issued a little bit later on. You won’t be allowed to wear shorts in class but you can wear them at the end of the day.
- Well-fitting running shoes (two pairs if possible). Make sure that they are of good quality, too, as the Physical Techniques Program can be grueling and will definitely put them to the test.
- Laptop. You will need this not only for your lessons but to get in touch with friends and family. There is a phone at the Academy but with the ease of communication online a laptop is certainly a plus.
- Boot shine kit. They tend to be out of stock at the local stores there because all interns use it but they rarely bring their own. Having your own black boot shine kit will save you the hassle.
- Maps of Artesia and nearby places in New Mexico. After each training day, you can pretty much do what you want. Although you will most likely be very busy studying and doing homework on weekdays, you will get a chance to tour that part of New Mexico on weekends. Familiarizing yourself with the territory beforehand helps and having a map along helps.
- Some cash. You will be receiving your border patrol agent salary and a modest stipend for day-to-day expenses at the Border Patrol Academy. However, this will take some time to process and you need to be sure that you have some extra amount on hand. Lodging and food are free.
Now that you know the most important stuff to take with you, here are the ones that you should leave behind:
- Your car. Parking is at a premium in the Border Patrol Academy so it’s going to cost you if you do decide to bring your wheels along. Besides, there are car rentals in the area if you want to tour the place during your free time. It’s not just worth it. Our advice: make friends with other trainees!
- Your family. If you are married, the preparation for Border Patrol Academy should include you, your spouse, and/or your kids. They should be ready to be away from you for the mandatory training time (58 days and if you are not proficient in Spanish, the additional 8 weeks of Spanish Language Class). Having family with you will only serve to distract you from your focus. Moreover, you will only get frustrated as you won’t be able to spend as much time with them as you want because of your tightly-packed schedule. Plus, you will have to spend extra money relocating them as the Border Patrol Academy does not have extra room for family members.
Border Patrol Academy: Preparing yourself before Training Starts
Success at the Border Patrol Academy starts even before you arrive in Artesia. There are many things you can do beforehand to prepare yourself for the very challenging time you are surely going to have there. So here are some things you can do to increase your chances of making it through in fine style:
- First, make sure it’s what YOU want to do! While the high-speed car chases and apprehending suspects are going to be part and parcel of your job, you have to ask yourself if you can handle the other aspect of your work: being alone, monitoring long border stretches—possibly on foot—for long stretches at a time. If you wanted to become an agent because of the excitement it offers, this part of the job can be a real challenge. So ask yourself: Do I really want to do this? If the answer is yes, then read on!
- Second, start a physical workout regimen. You’re already probably doing this since you have already passed the first pre-employment physical fitness test. Don’t make the physical training the tough part at the Academy!
- Third, take your Spanish seriously! Former Border Patrol Academy trainees say that the Spanish Task-Based Language Teaching course can be the toughest part. There are many beginner’s lessons that you can download online which will help familiarize you with the language. This way, you will already have knowledge some basic words as well as sentence structure and grammar.
- Fourth, believe in yourself. The dropout rate for many interns is quite high and most of the time, it’s because they are not yet completely mentally and emotionally prepared for the task. If you have the heart and the will to succeed then you can.
If you go through with this, and you’re like most agents, becoming a US Border Patrol Agent will be the proudest moment of your life. We KNOW you can do it.