Friday, November 24, 2017

"Border Agent's Death Highlights Growing Risk of Remote Patrols"

That is the headline for Caitlin Dickerson's story about the killing  of a border agent this week, and it draws attention to an issue I have written a great deal about over the years:  the relative lawlessness of rural and remote places.  This is because agents of the state (e.g., law enforcement) are largely not present, and neither are private citizens who could also provide aid to those in peril.  Read more here

The lede for the Texas story follows: 
Along the vast rocky desert that stretches from Mexico into rural West Texas, Border Patrol agents like Rogelio Martinez frequently work alone, miles from civilization and from help.
* * *
Over the weekend, the agents had been patrolling along a remote section of the border near Interstate 10 in Culberson County, Tex., where drug and human trafficking are common. 
[Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, the officers’ union] said that according to other officers who were on duty, Agent Martinez went to check out a Border Patrol ground sensor that had been activated. The sensors, concealed devices that remotely alert agents when triggered, can be set off by wild animals, dying batteries or even the wind. Agent Martinez confirmed over his radio that it had been set off by humans, Mr. Cabrera said. 
Agent Martinez called for backup, and when his partner, whose name has not been released, arrived, the partner called out over the radio that Mr. Martinez was unconscious. The officer requested more support, Mr. Cabrera said. 
Mr. Cabrera said that officers who arrived next found both men unconscious, and took them to the hospital.
Rogelio Martinez was 36.  The dead officer's father said "he had often worried about his son’s safety, and that he did not think officers should work alone in an area with so much criminal activity."  Dickerson quotes him:
What I don’t like is at night, there is only one person.
Culberson County, in far West Texas, has a population of just 2,398.  It is, however, just two counties east of El Paso. 

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