On April 11, 2011, an article appeared in the Yuma Sun about Michael Atondo, who was recently arrested in Yuma, Arizona. In the article, the reporter said Atondo "is also being represented by an attorney from the Border Patrol Union." As a result, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the union for all non-supervisory Border Patrol agents and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Border Patrol, issues the following statement.
One of the many benefits provided by the NBPC is coverage under the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) Legal Defense Fund (LDF) . Determination for coverage under the LDF is made by the Plan Administrator, not the NBPC. In the instant matter against Atondo, LDF determined additional information was needed to make a determination on coverage. This step is to ensure that our members receive a fair and unbiased determination of their case. Nevertheless, upon obtaining and reviewing all of the necessary information, LDF terminated representation. As a result, Atondo will not be represented by an attorney from the NBPC or PORAC LDF in future proceedings.
The NBPC is proud of the two agents who arrived on scene and whose quick thinking and actions led to the arrest of Atondo. Unfortunately, those two agents had to face the unthinkable that day and deal with the fallout from directives that occurred under the former Border Patrol chief and current Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar.
As was reported by the NBPC in the past, Aguilar placed a priority on quantity instead of quality with respect to new hires. While some in Congress believe polygraph exams are the solution, the NBPC believes the focus should not be entirely on new hires. Instead, Congress should focus on the illogical and immoderate changes the Border Patrol made to recruiting, hiring, and training of new hires under the direction of Aguilar.
Rather than waste millions of dollars on polygraphs, Congress should require the Border Patrol to conduct extensive background checks on anyone hired while Aguilar was the chief. Congress should order a review of the recruiting practices of the Border Patrol during the same time. Finally, Congress should demand the Border Patrol lengthen the academy and provide better training over a longer period of time to provide ample opportunity for: trainees to retain core components of the job, and academy instructors to prepare trainees for the field and identify trainees who are not suitable for law enforcement.
|Border Patrol Agent Clark
End of Watch: May 12, 2011
|Lead Border Patrol Agent Rojas
End of Watch: May 12, 2011
Yuma, Arizona - May 12, 2011 - The National Border Patrol Council is deeply saddened to report the death of Border Patrol Agent Hector R. Clark and Lead Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Rojas Jr.
Agents Rojas and Clark died in the line of duty while on patrol near the intersection of Interstate 8 and Palomas Road, about nine miles west of Gila Bend, Arizona. The agents were in an unmarked U.S. Border Patrol vehicle when it was involved in a collision with a freight train at a railroad crossing. Both agents died of injuries sustained in the accident.
Lead Border Patrol Agent Rojas began his career with the U.S. Border Patrol on April 9, 2000 as a member of the 432nd Session. He was assigned to the Yuma Sector since his entry on duty and graduation from the Academy. Agent Rojas is survived by his wife, Sayde and two children, Hayle and Dante. He was 34 years of age at the time of his death.
Border Patrol Agent Clark began his career with the U.S. Border Patrol on August 20, 2001 as a member of the 481st Session. He transferred to the Yuma Sector after he spent eight years in the El Centro Sector. Agent Clark is survived by his wife, Neddy and two children, Cody and Katy. He was 39 years of age at the time of his death.
This tragic accident further serves to remind us of the risks associated with the work Border Patrol agents perform daily in an effort to secure the Nation’s borders and protect its citizens.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clark and Rojas families, friends, and coworkers during this difficult time.