By Ron VandenBoom
Seventy-five years of history, service, and law enforcement on Americas borders was recognized Friday during a ceremony conducted at the U.S. Border Patrol Station on South Fifth Avenue.
Highlighting the event was the unfurling of a new Border Patrol pennant designed and approved at the national level for unveiling during the ceremony.
Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Ted Denning hosted the ceremony and gave the keynote address extolling the history of the U.S. Border Patrol and explaining the important roll played by the Patrol today along the Hi-Line of Montana.
The Border Patrol today has an officer complement in excess of 8,000 and we are working towards hiring 1,000 additional officers during each of the next three years, Denning told the crowd.
Of the current staff of 8,000 only 29 agents cover a border that stretches 450 miles, Denning said of the Hi-Line office.
But their mission remains the same with primary responsibility for Ports of Entry and surveillance and detection of illegal entrants and drug interdiction between the ports along the border.
Denning said they accomplish their mission by working cooperatively with all manner of federal, state and local agencies throughout the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming to carry out our mission.
Denning said he remembered a time when he first began with the Patrol he was given a flashlight and told not to use it very much because we were short of money to buy replacement batteries.
Today he said the rapid pace of technology precludes him from making any predictions about the equipment they will use in the future, but there is no doubt the U.S. will continue to be a magnet for those in less fortunate circumstances.
I fully expect that a Border Patrol Agent hired today will still be busy 20 years from now, he said.
Demonstrations and tours of the Havre facility were given to almost 100 visitors that came to pay their respects during the open house following the ceremony.
Tours were given of the Electronic Detection Equipment and facility southeast of the facility and also the radio room and dispatch center. A K-9 demonstration and display of the various special vehicles used by the patrol were also part of the tour.
Visitors could also visit the firing range to view the compliment of weapons, including automatic weapons, used by the officers.