June 4 - June 10
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Today's intro is about the CBP polygraph.
The High Cost of Doubt:
The Impact of the Polygraph Test on U.S. Border Patrol Staffing
This is a matter of deep concern, as the USBP forms approximately 40% of the CBP's workforce. Regrettably, the number of Border Patrol agents has been dwindling due to problems with staff retention and a mounting difficulty in hiring new personnel. Projections for the USBP's future are bleak, as we face a worrying trifecta of circumstances. First, overall morale within the USBP is on a downturn. Second, an increasing number of discretionary retirements and departures are further depleting our ranks. Lastly, a substantial chunk of agents that were hired during the hiring surge of 2006-2010 are nearing their retirement age, which adds a ticking clock to an already tense situation.
A statistic that starkly highlights the severity of the issue is that a mere 2% of applicants successfully navigate the recruitment process to become a Border Patrol Agent. 98% of applicants fail to become Border Patrol Agents! This startling figure is a testament to the systemic challenges that are preventing our efforts to bolster the USBP's ranks.
During the Fiscal Year 2022 recruitment cycle, it became evident that a significant portion of candidates were unable to pass the polygraph test or chose to exit the process at this stage. This fact is especially striking considering that about three-quarters of those who reached this point were no longer considered for the positions, primarily due to their performance on the polygraph test or their decision to withdraw.
While the polygraph test is mandated by the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 (codified in 6 U.S. Code § 221), the high rate of failure or withdrawal raises questions, not necessarily about the validity of the polygraph itself, but rather about the administration of the test by the OPR.
Psychologists generally agree that polygraph tests, while not foolproof in detecting deceit, can serve as stress detectors, given that they measure various physiological reactions incited by a wide range of emotions.
If administered appropriately, the polygraph test could be a useful tool in the recruitment process. However, the current administration methodology employed by the OPR appears to be creating a significant barrier for otherwise eligible and enthusiastic candidates. This issue further complicates the already challenging task of alleviating the staffing shortage at USBP.
Taking A Closer Look
Even more troubling is the realization that the polygraph examination does not stand in isolation. It is but one component in a series of rigorous steps that each applicant must successfully navigate. Each of these stages presents its own unique set of challenges and discontinuation rates.
Undeniably, the polygraph stage has the highest discontinuation and failure rate. However, it's crucial to understand that the cumulative effect of these multiple stages creates an extremely narrowed funnel. This system, in its entirety, filters out a staggering majority of the candidates. As mentioned before, 98% of individuals who initiate the process to become a Border Patrol agent fall short of completing it! This is not just a statistic, but a daunting reality that underscores the urgent need for reform.
The Need for Change
In light of these considerations, it is apparent that a reform of the current hiring process is required. It's crucial to devise a method that remains within the confines of the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 but does not needlessly impede the hiring of competent candidates.
Possible modifications could include a comprehensive review and update of the polygraph procedures, further training for examiners to increase consistency in administering the tests, and enhanced oversight to ensure the integrity of the process.
Moreover, the implementation of more reliable and accurate lie detection technologies, such as those based on functional brain imaging, may be worth exploring.
Call to Action
The issue at hand is not just about staffing numbers; it's about the security of our borders and, ultimately, the security of our nation. It is imperative that we strike a balance between due diligence in hiring and the operational needs of the USBP.
For current and former Border Patrol agents, this issue affects us all. Share this blog, discuss these concerns, and let's advocate for a more effective, equitable, and efficient hiring process. The future of the U.S. Border Patrol depends on it!
This week, we embark on a captivating journey through the U.S. Border Patrol's storied past. Witness the genesis of the Border Patrol from Frank Berkshire's pioneering 1918 proposal, then journey through its evolution under the watchful eyes of leaders such as Willard Kelly and Ruel Davenport. Experience the adrenaline of a 1920s gunfight with smugglers near El Paso, examine the profound impact of Henry Carpenter Smither Sr.'s border patrol consolidation efforts, and celebrate the formation of the USBP Pistol Team in the mid-1930s. Leap to the innovative 1950s with Kelly's unique vision for a new training school, then fast-forward to the 21st century. We'll conclude with a tale of exceptional professional dedication from Border Patrol Agent Shon McNeal in 2021. His swift, lifesaving actions at a vehicle accident scene exemplified the service ethos of the Border Patrol. Dive into these intriguing tales and more in this week's historical exploration!
We remember two of the Patrol's heroes on the anniversary of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
During this week, we solemnly remember Douglas C. Shute and James M. Carter, who tragically lost their lives in the same incident in 1956. It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the nine separate occasions on which the USBP has experienced the devastating loss of two Agents/Inspectors in a single event, totaling 18 fallen. We honor their memory and sacrifice, with their names listed below:
Enjoy and have a great week!
P.S. - As an open and continuous invitation to current and former USBP employees, I am always accepting photos to post in the USBP Photo Galleries and in the Upholding Honor First pages. I sure would appreciate you visiting those pages and sending me anything that you think I could post (just send them to email@example.com). As always, make sure to explore all of the hyperlinks to the documents and pages. Finally, please forward this blog to whomever you think may enjoy it.
The workplace climate resulting from a combination of organizational pride and employee morale.
Esprit de corps is reinforced through the shared goals, mission and values of the organization and its employees.
The definition turns Esprit de Corps into a simple formula and defines parts that comprise organizational pride and employee morale.
Esprit de Corps = Organizational Pride + Employee Morale
Esprit de Corps is the key to a healthy organization and engaged employees.
Honor First is foundational to the Border Patrol's organizational pride and integral to its Esprit de Corps.
THROWBACK PHOTO OF THE WEEK
President Kennedy Greeting Patrol Inspectors during a Visit to El Paso, TX, June 6, 1963
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
James P. Moody
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent James P. Moody was recognized for his courage while under gunfire in placing a gravely wounded fellow officer in a car and driving through that same fire to get to the hospital.
On June 9, 1975 at approximately 0030 hours, Senior Patrol Agent Allen H. Fry and Patrol Agent James P. Moody were performing assigned line-watch duties east of Brownsville, Texas. Observing a suspicious car in a known smuggling area with several people visible in the car, they attempted to stop the vehicle, which immediately took evasive action.
The vehicle was pursued about two miles and SPA Fry driving the government unit was able to force it to stop. Several people immediately attempted to flee and were pursued by PA Moody.
At that time, PA Moody heard a shot and a cry from Fry that he had been hit. Moody immediately returned to the vehicle. Moody observed that Fry had managed to get to the driver's seat and was attempting to radio for assistance.
Moody observing that Fry was gravely injured and bleeding profusely, started around the car to assist Fry when he came under fire from a concealed position to his right.
Eight to ten shots were fired at Moody as he moved around the car, and he returned fire with three rounds from his service revolver. Ignoring his personal safety, he ran under fire to the left side of the Service vehicle and seeing that Fry was in grave danger of bleeding to death, placed him on the rear seat to transport him to the hospital.
Moody, knowing that the shortest route to the hospital was back through the area under fire, drive the car forward about 100 yards, turned around and passed back through the area of the assault, again exposing himself to extreme danger from the assailant and proceeded at a high rate of speed for the hospital. Moody alerted nearby units of the assault and the grave injury, had the hospital alerted of the emergency, which resulted in a doctor and staff being on stand-by awaiting his arrival. There is little doubt that this immediate action saved SPA Fry's life.
Michael W. Snyder
Border Patrol Pilot
Del Rio Sector
On June 9, 1992, Border Patrol Pilot Michael W. Snyder assisted the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Department in saving the life of one swimmer and obtaining much needed medical attention for several others. The Frio River was at flood stage due to recent heavy rains and swimmers were reported stranded. Pilot Snyder flew the Service helicopter directly over the stranded couple and Captain Watkins dropped a rope to the man, who was near exhaustion yet trying to keep his female companion above water and hold on to an inner-tube. After several attempts to get the rope to the man, it became apparent it was not going to work. Pilot Snyder maneuvered the helicopter among tall cypress tress and power lines to obtain visual contact with the peopled in the water, dipped the skid under the man, and nudged the couple towards the banks to several other swimmers who jumped in and pulled them out of the water. Unfortunately, the female did not make it; however, the man was saved and several others were taken by Pilot Snyder to an ambulance to receive medical attention.
As of March 6, 2023, HonorFirst.com solemnly acknowledges the loss of 154 brave individuals who have fallen in their line of duty:
The names listed below are respected and remembered for their ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling the oath to protect and defend the United States of America.
In preserving the historical context, the descriptions about each officer's circumstances are presented with minimal editing to maintain the original "language of the day".
Complying with the Privacy Act of 1974, any causes of death related to lethal illnesses contracted in the line of duty will not be disclosed.
It's noteworthy that Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax's name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial, yet his sacrifice is not officially recognized by the Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol.
However, HonorFirst.com proudly acknowledges and includes Agent Gigax among our memorialized heroes.
Douglas C. Shute
Date of Birth: December 31, 1918
Entered on Duty: September 5, 1950
Title: Airplane Pilot
End of Watch: June 6, 1956
During the morning hours of June 6, 1956, Airplane Pilot Douglas C. Shute was patrolling in a Piper Supercub. He was working with a ground unit engaged in “sign-cutting,” a term applied to locating and following footprints or other physical evidence left by a person in traversing an area. Pilot Shute landed the plane on a roadway and conferred with Patrol Inspectors James M. Carter, Emmit R. Brotherton, and Carter M. Newsome. The ground crew had located the tracks of two persons, which could more readily be checked out by officers in the aircraft. Patrol Inspector James M. Carter decided to serve as observer in the aircraft while the other officers continued to follow the tracks on the ground. Pilot Shute informed the officers by radio that the walkers had been located and instructed to come out of the brush to be picked up by the ground crew.
Shortly thereafter, the plane went into a steep climb and stalled. It began a left spin from which there was no recovery. It struck the ground in vertical descent. The engine was driven back into the cockpit, the force of the impact telescoping the cabin, imprisoning the pilot and observer. Both were killed on impact.
James M. Carter
Date of Birth: February 26, 1921
Entered on Duty: April 25, 1955
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: June 6, 1956
Patrol Inspectors James M. Carter and Carter M. Newsome were temporarily detailed from Marfa, Texas, to Comstock, Texas, on June 4, 1956, for a two-week horse patrol operation to work in the vicinity of Comstock. On June 6th these officers, accompanied by Patrol Inspector Emmit R. Brotherton, were about 35 miles north northwest of Comstock engaged in “sign-cutting,” a term applied to locating and following footprints or other physical evidence left by a person traversing an area. The officers had located two sets of footprints and were tracking them when Service aircraft N4375A, piloted by Airplane Pilot Douglas G. Shute, arrived. Thereafter, the aircraft was used in the search operation with Patrol Inspector Carter serving as observer in the plane.
At about 10:00 a.m., the pilot reported by radio that the walkers had been located and directed the ground crew on a course to intercept them. The plane was then seen making a banking turn to the left and resuming level flight at 100 feet altitude. Shortly thereafter, the plane went into a steep climb and at 450 feet, it stalled, falling into a left spin from which there was no recovery. There had been no change in engine power during the maneuver, in the spin, or at impact. The plane struck the ground in vertical descent, the engine being driven back into the cockpit. The force of the impact telescoped the cabin, imprisoning the pilot and observer.
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Blog author, retired U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief and, current U.S. Border Patrol employee advocate.
Site founder and owner, former Supervisory Border Patrol Agent and retired Immigration Special Agent.
U.S. Border Patrol historian and retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.
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