by SARA MARSALL//Editor-in-Chief
Not all opinions are set in stone…sometimes people can change their minds
I used to have this unexplainable negative attitude toward the United States Border Patrol. I’m honestly not sure why. Maybe it was all the bad press I would hear about when I was growing up, or the way the movies tend to portray law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.
Maybe it was because of my own personal assumptions. When I think I’m right, I’m right. Don’t we all?
Who knows at this point? But I believed that I was right; that the U.S. Border Patrol was full of racist, misogynistic, “Make America Great Again” kind of people.
And I was happily surprised to find out something that nearly never happens: I was wrong!
I was absolutely and inexcusably wrong about how I had been thinking all these years.
During spring break this year, I had the wonderful opportunity not only to research and write a story about the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, but interacted and even befriended some of the agents assigned there.
While staying at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the agents exposed me to some of their intensive training and proved that they train potential agents to ask questions first and assess a situation before reacting.
I had the opportunity to shoot various weapons, under the supervision of experienced agents, of course, and I learned how the agents are trained to react to situations. Before I thought large guns were extremely scary and unnecessary. Now I realize why some people just go to a shooting range and shoot a target at the end of the day: it can be fun and a way to destress. It’s their end of the day beer, so to speak. So it’s definitely not something to scoff at, as long as they’re doing it in a safe and controlled environment.
Prior to this experience, I always assumed those Border Patrol agents were gun-wielding hillbillies, ready to shoot any Mexican they saw fit. This was not the case. They are encouraged to always be on guard in case a situation goes awry, but these amazing men and women learn to first be human beings. Their quick reflexes and cool minds make for extremely level-headed, capable law enforcement personnel.
Many attending the Academy, as far as I saw, have prior law enforcement experience or had law enforcement backgrounds. Many trainees are well educated, holders of college degrees. Not the racist hillbillies I had been lead to believe.
Surprisingly enough, many trainees are at the academy because it offers them an opportunity to be outdoors and in nature. Many love interacting with weapons, but in a safe environment. Others choose to go to the border to ensure their families are safe from cartels and the drugs being smuggled.
It was extremely eye-opening as I slowly realized that these amazing men and women are normal people with normal lives, just like me. Some have families that they go home to. Others stay at the Academy and live in their on-campus dorms, much like I do at South Plains College.
So overall, I had an amazing experience and learned so many new things about our country and about the U.S. Border Patrol. I believe that we, as a country, need to have an open mind about our law enforcement personnel and those in the Border Patrol. We are all humans, and we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt, without considering preconceived notions of negativity.
[Photo by TOVI OYERVIDEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS]