U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers never know who or what they may encounter, so they have to be prepared for everything. In February 2011, ICE officers boarded a bus with agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Mobile Interdiction Unit (MIU) for an inaugural joint training exercise in Miami, Fla.
CBP's MIU responds to situations that go beyond the typical duties performed by Border Patrol agents. They often find themselves performing immigration inspections at bus terminals, so conducting a training exercise on a bus seemed to be a good fit. And what's the best way to learn? Call on your peers with experience. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Lazaro Guzman came up with the idea to contact ICE to see how its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers handle situations on buses. It turned out to be a great call.
"We transport detainees on buses every day, so we have looked at this situation from every possible angle. The commercial buses they board are a little different than the ones we use but the techniques used to secure them are pretty much the same. Training together for this scenario is a natural fit for both teams," said ICE ERO Officer Tim Healy.
Agents and officers participated in several role-playing scenarios. One situation involved a subject or group of subjects who refused to exit. Another involved a takeover situation where agents, officers and other innocent parties had to be rescued. Participants also practiced linear assault techniques on the bus, which are commonly used by ICE ERO officers when transporting detainees. By the end of the exercise, the team could quickly secure the bus by performing several simulated actions, including fastening windows, opening the outer door, opening an interior security door and checking every row of seats.
"This is some of the most relevant training we have ever received. We'll leave (the training site) today with some new skills that absolutely make us better," said Guzman.
"And we'll leave here knowing that we have some highly-qualified backup if we ever have to conduct this type of operation," said Healy.