U.S. Customs and Border Protection opens Port Clinton facilityWritten by Brian Bohnert | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Northwest Ohio’s new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) station opened June 14.
The station, a $25 million, 61,000 square-foot facility, is located on the Sandusky Bay in Port Clinton. The operation employs 95 personnel and is the first CBP facility to house all three branches of the agency in the same building: Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations and Office of Air and Marine.
The private grand opening ceremony started at 11 a.m. Thursday with longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur addressing the importance of protecting our local borders and keeping a strong relationship with our “neighbors to the north.”
“We think about this summer’s celebrations of the War of 1812, and how important this region was to America’s first frontier, and to establishing the state of Ohio and the border that we share with Canada along Lake Erie,” Kaptur said. “The boating industry and the maritime industry that operate here in Lake Erie are extraordinary. They are multibillion dollar assets that have taken generations to build and we have a tremendous responsibility to protect this resource for generations to come.”
Representatives from all three branches of CBP took the stage, stressing coordination and communication among the branches. Being under the same roof has made that an attainable goal, officials said.
“The reason this effort received such enthusiastic support from the agency was because this would be the first facility,” said Randolph L. Gallegos, chief patrol agent for CBP’s Detroit Border Patrol Sector. “This idea of jointness in the world of law enforcement has morphed from a pretty good idea to a necessity. The operational and fiscal benefits to having law enforcement components with a similar mandate that separates the state’s skill sets results in a more effective and comprehensive approach to border security.”
Guarding the borders
The most common illegal acts CBP fights are drug smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism, agricultural pests and illegal immigration.
John S. Beutlich, executive director of the northern border in the Office of Air and Marine, said the new facility offers new opportunities for all three branches of CBP to work together in fighting all illegal activities in this section of the northern border.
“The men and women who will daily work out of this facility, whether they are in green, blue or tan, represent an organization with a very clear mission: to protect the American public from bad people and bad things entering this country,” Beutlich said.
Beutlich said CBP officials seize more than 7 tons of narcotics from U.S. border crossings on a daily basis. They process more than 900,000 passengers and pedestrians and 64,000 truck rail and sea containers on a typical day. They also typically apprehend 932 people trying to illegally cross borders and at least 61 illegal immigrants with criminal records, he said
While all three branches of local CBP offices are housed in one location, Brian Bell, spokesman for CBP’s Chicago office, said each has different methods of carrying out the laws they enforce.
Field Operations handles traffic at all legal ports while the Border Patrol enforces the traffic in between those ports. The Office of Air and Marine works with the other two branches via water or aircraft, Bell said.
A Look Inside
Border Patrol, Field Operations and Air and Marine were all originally housed in separate buildings within the city of Sandusky. But after extensive research and planning, officials thought a joint facility would be the smartest, most cost-effective option.
“Besides the obvious cost savings for the tax payer, we will see an ease of information sharing for joint meetings and intelligence briefings,” said Steven Artino, assistant director for the Office of Field Operations in the Chicago field office. “The days of saying ‘call Border Patrol’ or ‘ask Field Operations’ are over.”
While each branch used to have its own lockers, meeting rooms and conference areas, the new building saves time and money by creating shared facilities, he said.
The new facility has five holding cells inside the containment area where arrestees can be detained for up to 24 hours.
There is a special K-9 section of the building where dogs — specially trained to smell for both narcotics and humans — are temporarily housed. Currently, the facility only has one dog but at least one to two more are expected.
A large garage in the back of the building allows for the storage of both patrol vehicles and the 33-foot Safe Boats the CBP uses.
The parking lot on the outside of the garage has an area where a helicopter can touch down if it is needed, Bell said.
Planning for the new building began in 2007, and CBP and the Department of Homeland Security took great strides to make this building one of a kind, officials said.
“I have no doubt that this facility will be the template, the role model for others to emulate,” Beutlich said. “But we can always remember that they will all be copies and this will be the original.”
CBP was formed in March 2003 as an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It has more than 58,000 employees nationwide and has approximately 150 Border Protection offices in the United States.
“They say that good things come to those who wait. This facility surely epitomizes that sentiment. Housed under one roof are all the elements that, nine years ago, belonged to other departments,” Beutlich said.
Crews broke ground on the new building on June 8, 2011.
Tags: Brian Bell, Brian Bohnert, Department of Homeland Security, John S. Beutlich, Marcy Kaptur, Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, Port Clinton, Randolph L. Gallegos, Steven Artino, U.S. Customs and Border Protection