Criminal Justice Program Alumna, Katherine Griffith is an integral part of the nation’s security
As the most publicized region of the United States’ border-control issues, it’s easy to assume America’s Border Patrol agents keep our borders safe in the South. But with major crimes coming out of Canada, Alvernia criminal justice alumna Katherine Griffith is an integral part of our nation’s security to the north.
Griffith who works at the Massena station in upstate New York took the time to explain a bit about what it takes to be a United States Border Patrol agent.
Currently located in Massena, N.Y., Griffith, who is originally from York, Pa., transferred from San Diego after spending five years there.
Her current role is patrolling the Canadian border, “both land and marine, in search of illegal aliens or contraband that is smuggled in through our borders. I also gather intelligence through community interaction and mobile surveillance,” Griffith tells us.
Griffith knew that she wanted to work for the government since college, but wasn’t sure exactly which agency was right for her.
“I heard about Border Patrol on a radio commercial, Griffith says. “I applied and in the summer of 2006, the Border Patrol offered me a station location in San Diego, Ca., at the end of 2006. After I accepted, I went to a five-month academy in Artesia, N.M.
It would be tough to call any day working for Border Patrol “average,” but most days run from 8 to 10 hours (or even many more), depending on if you’ve caught drugs, aliens, or are assisting state or local law enforcement agencies, according to Griffith.
“I work the afternoon shift, so I come in around 3pm. Once our shift is all accounted for, we “muster up” or gather to brief and update each other on current events. We then get our assignments and then head out into the field.
And there was certainly nothing average about her assignment in San Diego where Griffith had to chase Mexican nationals into the swamp.
“I was in San Diego and had just witnessed four Mexican nationals jump the border fence. They quickly disappeared into an area we called “the swamp” and rightfully so. The vegetation is thick, the ground is soggy and muddy, and the radio communications are weak because of the leaf canopy above. I was alone and pursued the four men into the dense brush. I was continuously calling for back up, but my radio couldn’t reach communications. The men were nowhere to be found, so I found their foot prints and followed them through the mud. Once I discovered the men, I commanded them in Spanish to show me their hands. They didn’t comply so I asked them again. They still did not comply. I knew I was on my own and outnumbered with no back up, so I drew my weapon and demanded to see their hands. Once they saw my gun, they knew I meant business. I learned you must always have the upper hand and command officer presence, especially as a female agent. Things could have been much different and fatal down in “the swamp,” but I remembered what I was taught, and trusted my instinct.”
If you are a student who is interested in criminal justice and border patrol, Griffith has some advice.
“Be prepared to relocate to a border town. The border patrol offers a great range of opportunities, from SWAT, Search & Rescue, Marine operations, ATVs, Horse Patrol, Bike Patrol, Public Relations, recruitment, academy instructing, undercover work, to intelligence agents. But you must be willing to live a life on the border. Some border towns are better than others, it’s just a matter of where you get stationed.”
And if this type of work sounds interesting, you better have a thick skin, says Griffith.
“An agent needs to be able to remove himself from situations, where normal civilians might become sympathetic or feel bad. As a border patrol agent, you need to keep in mind the duties of the job and display officer presence at all times.”