Last night, just north of Nogales, Ariz., Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed after coming in contact with several suspicious men near Rio Rico, Ariz. Four suspects have been taken into custody while another is still at large, according to the Customs and Border Patrol.
Back in September I had the chance to spend a day with Border Patrol agents around Nogales, doing a story both on what they contend with on a daily basis, as well as how they use sensing technologies to help them do their jobs.
The area around Nogales is part of the Tucson Sector, which is the most active alone the entire border. Covering only 262 mi. of border, the sector still managed to account for 1 million lb. of marijuana seized in Fiscal 2010, and 203,000 illegal border crossers detained. Tucson also has the distinction of being the test bed for the Homeland Security Department’s huge and controversial SBInet program, part of its larger Secure Border Initiative. SBI was initiated in 2005 to add fencing, paved and graded roads and install SBInet technologies such as radar, sensors, cameras and other communications gear along the border.
Five years on, and $800 million later, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a freeze on the program pending a top-to-bottom review. At the time, nine towers in the Tucson Sector had been completed, and by late October six more were conducting limited operations in the Ajo Sector. Still, the agents on the ground loved the gear, which gives them real-time access to radar and camera feeds, and increases both their safety, as well as their response time.