San Diegans Search For Drugs, Track Smugglers At Citizens Academy

By Jill Replogle
December 13, 2011

SAN DIEGO -- On a recent Saturday morning, it was graduation time: 13 San Diego County citizens had just completed a five-week course with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agency hosts similar courses across the country, designed to forge relationships with local community leaders and give them a better idea of how it operates.

The highlight of the small, muted ceremony was a video documentary of the training set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."

In one scene, a student points a pistol at a paper silhouette of a human torso. In another, a smiling woman holds up a tin foil-wrapped package of fake drugs that she uncovered hidden in a car.

The course attracted all kinds of people, from young border patrol agents-in-training to immigrant rights activist Enrique Morones.

“I know that sometimes we don’t agree with some of things that are happening, and I will continue to protest that when that happens," said Morones, who founded the group Border Angels. "But we really need to know each other better.”

Kristy Daubach, 19, has been a Border Patrol Explorer — the equivalent of a junior police officer — for more than three years.

“So this is kind of like a step up,” Daubach said.

Her goal is to earn a badge, a uniform, maybe night-vision goggles, and patrol the border for real.

“I’ve already even taken the written test for it and I passed that," Daubach said. "It’s just a matter of more paperwork and whatnot, but yeah, that’s what I’d like to do.”

More San Diegans can try out night-vision goggles at the next CBP Citizens Academy, which is scheduled to start in February.