ARTESIA — The United States Border Patrol Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center reports an era has ended for them.
Academy Deputy Chief Carlos Ortiz said changes were made regarding cadets learning the Spanish language.
“The graduates that would test out in the Spanish language would go to the field as soon as they were done with training, when it comes to the firearms, driving and those departments, if they tested in Spanish and were proficient, they would go immediately to the field upon graduation,” he said.
Ortiz said those who did not meet the requirements for Spanish language would have to stay back and go through that training for a period of around 40 days. “And then graduate from that Spanish proficiency program and head out to field from there.”
Recently, Class 1083 graduated from the USBP Academy. They were the last class to graduate from the 66-day program.
“We’re going from more of a classroom student-centric (training), to a scenario-based training,” Ortiz said. “With the Spanish program, being incorporated from day four.”
Ortiz said starting on the fourth day of class, cadets begin to see that scenario-based training.
“To include the Spanish language so they’re more proficient with the scenario-based situations they’re going to be seeing in the field.”
All incoming classes will now be part of a 117-day training session.
“In the past, trainees would leave here with three certifications,” Ortiz said. “Now, they’re leaving here with 14 certifications. It takes a little bit of the ownership or the manpower from the sectors, because they leave here with all 14 certifications.”
He said they are better trained and better equiped once they leave Artesia.
Ortiz has been with the USBP for 16 years and he said today’s cadets are going through the things he experienced as a cadet.
“We’re actually going back to what I went through,” he said. “Because the Spanish language was incorporated when I went through.”
He said there were five groups that were separated by the proficiency of the Spanish program.
“If you were proficient, you were in group one and less proficient, group two, and it moves down the ladder,” he said. “Even if you are proficient, you may be in group one or group five. So we’ve used those trainees that are here that are proficient in Spanish to kind of be instructors within the classroom with their students that they’re going to school with.”
He said some of the basic training he went through more than a decade ago is still the same.
“I can tell you that 16 years ago, never once do I remember that we went out as a trainee and tracked a group or attempted to track for a sign that we talk about. Now these trainees, they go out there and instead of sitting and waiting for their turn to do a scenario, they’re going out and tracking in certain locations, so they’re constantly being taught something that we do based on the field work,” Ortiz said.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at email@example.com.