Skip to comments.Border Patrol uniform gets first makeover since the 1950s
Posted on 08/16/2007 3:49:02 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
SAN DIEGO Leather belts with brass buckles are out; nylon belts with quick-release plastic buckles are in. Slacks are out; lightweight cargo pants are in. Shiny badges and nameplates are out; cloth patches are in.
The Border Patrol uniform is getting its first makeover since the 1950s to look more like military fatigues and less like a police officer's duty garb.
The new uniform, introduced this week, reflects how illegal border crossings have changed in the last decade. As enforcement heightened, routes moved from the streets of San Diego and other border cities to unforgiving, often remote mountains and deserts on the 1,952-mile, U.S.-Mexico border. That means rigorous exercise in extreme heat for migrants and the agents who pursue them.
"We still do street patrols but 99.9 percent is hills and rugged terrain," said Joe Perez, supervisor of the agency's Chula Vista station, which guards a 7-mile stretch of border in the San Diego area. "We pushed it out to where it's a lot more difficult to cross."
The redesign marks only the second major uniform change since the Border Patrol was created in 1924, said Assistant Border Patrol Chief Scott Garrett, who oversaw the national launch. In the 1950s, World War I-era cavalry-type uniforms were jettisoned.
The new uniform in the works for three years at a cost of $7.5 million to outfit 14,000 agents is designed to be "more operational, more tactical," Garrett said.
The quick-release belts are designed to prevent drownings in the Rio Grande and elsewhere, Garrett said. Loaded with flashlights and other gear, the heavy belts made it more difficult to stay afloat. Four agents have drowned since 2003, most recently in May in the Coachella Canal in the southeastern California desert.
Two large pockets with Velcro flaps can hold ready-to-eat meals, flashlight batteries and global positioning system devices.
Badges and nameplates are sewn on because the old, shiny pins often fell off when agents crawled and whacked through brush. The new nameplate matches the olive green uniform to make agents less visible to people who are trying to hide.
"When the moonlight shined on that name badge, you really stood out," Perez said.
The makeover comes shortly after the Border Patrol switched to a lighter .40-caliber handgun. The new holster is a plastic loop, instead of leather snap, which was prone to stretching.
About two dozen agents at Thursday's roll call in San Diego gave generally favorable reviews. The station's 7-mile border stretch rises 4,000 feet east from the bustling Otay Mesa crossing through mountains that are covered by cactus and brush, inaccessible by road.
Jordan Salamat, who spends his shifts walking through mountain brush, said the old uniforms were known to rip on first-time outings, and the pants lacked pocket space.
Ramon Ramirez, an agent for 10 years, said the new garb looks more military, "like you mean business."
The launch didn't go without last-minute hitches and scattered complaints.
Earlier this week, it was postponed to Oct. 1 from Wednesday because some agents didn't get their uniforms in time or ordered the wrong sizes. Then agents were told to be in their new uniforms by Thursday, even though a few didn't have them.
Some agents said the yellow patch badge was still too visible. Others who drive all-terrain vehicles grumbled that the two-piece uniform was inferior to their old jumpsuits, which kept out dirt.
Perez, the station chief, would prefer lighter boots and a nylon holster, but he welcomed the change.
"These are made for climbing over fences and walking up and down hills," he said.
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
“Ramon Ramirez, an agent for 10 years, said the new garb looks more military, “like you mean business.””
Instead of actually meaning business.
Smoke and mirrors.
Oh, not the fence between us and mexico.
80 years of tradition unhampered by progress
The old uniforms were junk that I kid you not were Hecho in Mexico.
I’m glad they’re spending money on uniforms, instead of machine guns, barbed wire, vicious dogs, concrete and landmines.
At least our agents will look good while the government fails to defend the border.
What does that mean??
I'd rather a .45!
The BP union was most displeased.
Thanks! I’m one of those ‘bigots’ that only speak ‘Merican’. ;)
The new uniforms are a nice change. They are more functional and tactical than the old uniforms. Now the service needs to work on the vehicles. With white color schemes, diesel engines, temperature alarms and headlights that don’t turn off, you couldn’t sneak up on a glass of water.
Typical government redundancy.
Here is an idea:
Instead of trying to make the BP uniforms “look more military”, let’s just put the military on the freaking border.
Right behind the fence.
Hopefully the new uniforms will not be "hechoed" by the Mehicano Uniform Company like the old ones were.
I’d bet these are made in China.
You do the jury system in America no favors by pinning the conviction on the DA. The people convicted these liars. Where’s there’s smoke, by gawd, there’s fire.
I want to be clear about one thing. It doesn’t give me any comfort knowing how easy it is for the bad guys to compromise the mission of the good guys with $$. Therefore when guys are caught and convicted for a crime they most clearly committed, it tends to put a little more fear in the rest. There needs to be a very very very fricking strong deterent to our border agents getting flipped.
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