OK, I will go along with your fourth grade teacher and agree that there are no REALLY stupid questions. There are, however, some that appear in our little forum over and over and over again. This is an attempt to compile some of them and the answers that go with them.
SQ1. What is an "X?"
SA1. An X is a highly visible forward observation post, hopefully just out of rock-throwing range, usually semi-stationary in nature. Movement from the X is restricted within certain limits. The purpose of the X is to DETER illegal entry.
SQ2. I am supposed to report to my duty station on Monday. Do I go to the station or what?
SA2. Negative. You will report to the sector HQ. You will probably get a chance to visit your O/S (official station) for a half day after all of your in-processing. (See SQ17 for more info).
SQ3. Does the government pay for my travel to report to my station, or do they pay to move my stuff?
SA3. No. Be prepared to lodge and feed yourself for three or four days until you arrive at the academy.
SQ4. Do I get time to go home and get my stuff and find a place to live before I report to my station for duty after the academy?
SA4. You will accumulate a few days of annual leave during your academy stay. Use it wisely. During your last week or two at the academy, be looking on the internet for a place to live, or contact a buddy who left the academy before you who went to the same area. Have your SigOth do the looking for you while you are dragging your car and junk there.
SQ5. Can you be in the National Guard or Reserves and be a BPA?
SA5. Not only can you be, but you actually get additional leave time to do your two week drill. There are pay incentives to reduce pay hardships. See: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/#url=Reservist-Differential. You should go inactive reserve for the period of your first year if you can. You will not be able to drill during the academy.
SQ6. I keep seeing that we need to bring white-soled tennis shoes.
SA6. Forget that. All athletic shoes made now have non-marking soles. DO buy the best shoes you can afford that fit you perfectly. Buy two if you can, one pair to wear and one to air out or dry.
SQ7. Do they provide us with guns or should I bring my own?
SA7. Do NOT bring a personally-owned weapon. The last time you will see it until graduation will be at the front gate. If you are caught with one on base. you're fired. You will be issued a weapon at FLETC and that will be the one you take home with you, so treat it well.
SQ8. What about work out/PT clothes?
SA8. Leave 'em at home. Your work out UNIFORM will be provided except for shoes, right down to the jock strap. You can probably get by with using your own jock if you wish if the idea of wearing a used jock grosses you out. They wash all that stuff in about 212 degree water.
SQ9. I am LDS. Can I wear the garment while in uniform or at PT?
SA9. Yes, as long as it is not visible.
SQ10. While we're on the topic of religion, can I have Sundays off to observe my church attendance?
SA10. Excuse me, Mr. Smuggler. You're going to have to take the day off. We don't have any agents to chase you today, so you just stay over there and behave, OK? This falls under a topic known as Needs of the Service. Border Patrol work is 24/7.
SQ11. I am female. Do they make special allowances for us during PT?
SA11. Females are treated exactly the same as any other agent/trainee at the academy and in the field. Some females even report that they seem to have to "prove" their worth before they are accepted. That is a myth. ALL trainees have to prove their worth before they are accepted. You might run into the old school guys who think women have no place in law enforcement, but they are getting more and more rare.
SQ12. Do we get paid at the academy?
SA12. Some police agencies make YOU pay to attend. We pay YOU. Not only do you get paid (and quite handsomely), but you also get free food and free rent. Oh, did I mention the maid service in the dorms? Nope, not joking. They come in and make your nasty little bunk, clean your groddy bathroom and replace your towels, and sweep/vacuum/mop. Don't EVER come on to one of them unless you like flying (home).
SQ13. Do we get nights/weekends off?
SA13. What, do we look like the Marines? OK, so maybe we do a little bit, but your time off is yours. Again, I say USE IT WISELY. If you are a party animal, you will pay when test time rolls around. Your buddies will know who is deserving of the extra effort needed to pull them through and who the slackers are. Do not get that rep. Study when it is time, and have some down time when you need it. The academy is twenty weeks out of your life. Don't lose your career over a beer. Also, be warned, the NM cops are thick as flies looking for DWI's. Nothing like messing up a great career by losing your DL.
SQ14. Question deleted as it no longer applies. Please submit an alternative stupid question to replace it.
SQ15. What is a NOPA?
SA15. It is a Greek version of Viva, or hurrah, or cheers. OK, not really. I think that would be Opa. NOPA means Notice of Proposed Action. That means, unless you satisfactorily address the issues mentioned in the NOPA, your hiring process ends. How do you do that? It is kind of like a word problem in math. First, figure out EXACTLY what they are asking for. Then, item by item, address each issue, with clarity and articulation. Have someone (other than yourself) who has a good command of English go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Ask that person if they were on the receiving end of your reply, would they understand what you are saying. You might want to point out all the wonderful things you have done in your life to make yourself a better citizen than you were when you committed whatever the act or omission that caused the NOPA.
SQ16. Can I bring my car to the academy?
SA16. Yes. Artesia is in the middle of nowhere and you will discover a new-found popularity level you may have never experienced if you have a car. It is simply amazing how many trips your classmates will need to make to WalMart during the week. (On a side note, Walmart has the best booze prices in town.). Can you leave your car there prior to traveling to your sector HQ for EOD (Entry on Duty)? Yep. You will speak to the nice guard at the gate and they will direct you to park the car in the overflow parking lot. Upon arrival at FLETC for training, you will register said car. Be sure to have the proper insurance, registration and of course, your DL.
SQ17. Do I have to stay at a certain hotel when I EOD?
SA17. You're paying for it, so you CAN stay wherever you can afford. However, the recommended hotel usually gives government rates to arriving trainees. Also, either the BP or the hotel might provide a shuttle to the Sector HQ or it may be within easy walking distance.
SQ18. Can I share the cost of hotel or rental car with another trainee?