FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Young adults in Aroostook County interested in law enforcement will have a chance this summer to see how agents secure our nation’s borders through a program offered through the U.S Border Patrol.
An Explorer Program, where agents will mentor and prepare young adults who are enthused about law enforcement, will be offered through the Border Patrol’s Fort Fairfield station.
It will be the first Border Patrol Explorer Program to operate in Maine, Jodi Williams, supervisory border patrol agent for the public affairs office, Houlton sector, said Friday.
The Border Patrol is the mobile, uniformed law enforcement arm of U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security. Border Patrol agents nationwide patrol the 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders and 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and the island of Puerto Rico.
Once accepted into the program, an Explorer will receive extensive training and on-the-job experience to help prepare them for a career in law enforcement, according to officials at the Border Patrol. Explorers also go on field trips, assist with processing passengers, help with crowd control, work at airports and seaports and observe vessel searches, according to the U.S. Border Patrol website.
The new program is open to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents between the ages of 14 and 21 who are enrolled in high school or college.
Participants must sign up by July 13 and classes will be held at the Fort Fairfield station.
The Explorer Program is a Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life program. It was established in partnership with professional organizations to prepare young adults for certain professions.
While this is the first time the initiative has been offered through the Border Patrol, Explorer Programs have been offered through other local, state and federal agencies in Maine.
In 1989, U.S. Customs Service Officers Robert Morrill and Bert Magnus started an Explorer post in Aroostook County to focus on law enforcement which was the only one of its kind in Maine at the time, according to published reports.
Customs and Border Protection officers are on duty at the nation’s international airports, seaports and land border crossings in order to prevent terrorism and criminal activities such as drug smuggling, undocumented entry of individuals, weapons trafficking and more.
The two men founded the post with the idea of introducing and training high school students in all aspects of law enforcement so they could make a career choice later. They got the idea after reading about a similar post operated in Boston by the Customs Service there.
The first group attracted 15 participants, which grew to 32 the next year. During those first two years, activities included visits to the State Police Crime Lab in Augusta, the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Southwest Harbor and the state prison.
They also worked at the Houlton Police Department with a dispatcher, rode on patrol with a state police trooper, operated the National Crime Information Center computer link to San Diego, Calif., and operated video-inspection cameras at some of the smaller ports of entry along the Maine-Canada border.
Similar groups sprang up in Bar Harbor and Eastport.
Information about the program through the Border Patrol can be gathered by calling Supervisory Border Patrol Agent John Krause at 472-5041 or the Houlton Sector Public Affairs Office at 532-6521 before July 13.