A MISSING BORDER PATROL AGENT

In the Border Patrol radio "Security Checks" are performed by sector radio every hour from dark to daylight...If an Agent misses a check it's no big deal...most of us did.  If an Agent misses two in a row then their supervisor is usually called.  If one is missing longer than two hours then the Calvary is called.

This is a true story.  I've changed the real agent's name to Joe just cause....


​One morning at about 2:30 AM, the phone rang at my house.  One of the few things I can do good is wake up immediately and be able to comprehend enough to talk on the phone.  I answered it and Don Cole, a very competent agent from the Metaline Falls Station, got right to the point. 

“Hey Bob, sorry to wake you but we got a problem.”  Of course when a subordinate law enforcement officer calls his boss at home at 0230, a shot of adrenalin is expected.  “Joe’s missing.  Radio can’t reach him.”

“Okay,” I replied clearing any remaining cobwebs from my mind.  “When was the last time you heard from him?”

“About 12 or maybe 12:30.”  That was only a couple of hours but Sector gives us a security check every hour and if we miss two in a row, then they are required to step up the search which included calling me. 

“Okay, Don.  I will be there in about 10 minutes.”  I was already up and pulling on blue jeans and a shirt.  I grabbed my gun belt and shoved my gun in it.  Then put on my shoes and departed.  It hadn’t taken me more than five minutes to get ready. 

“Hey Don,”  I said as I entered the Border Patrol Station trying to sound as calming as possible.  “Anything new yet?”  I asked hoping that radio had already located him. 

“No.  Chris is out north on 31 looking around.”

“Good.  Who was the last person to see him and do you know where he was going?”  I asked knowing that no one at the Metaline Falls Station actually went to a specific assigned area.

“He was here sometime between eleven and midnight.  We haven’t seen him since.”  Don and Joe are classmates and the concern’s obvious in his voice.

I called Chris and he, sounding way too nonchalant, advised he was looking in all of the hidey-holes he would think of.

I had a strange feeling and it nagged at me so I finally said, “Let’s call everyone in.” Don raised his eyebrows but didn’t argue.  He got on the phone immediately.  Thinking about Joe and what he was going through in his personal life I said, “I’m going to have Shannon go by his home; just in case.” 

Shannon woke out of a deep sleep.  I didn’t want to alarm him but I was a bit worried.  Agents have went off the deep in before so I explained to Shannon what my worries were, “Just go by his residence and make sure everything there is okay.”  Shannon started to question this order but knew I was right to be worried.  It was a long shot but we had to consider it.

Out of the 12 guys, most of them lived quite 40 plus miles away from the station with Manny topping the list at 120 miles.  He was my boss but he was the one I didn’t want to call; at least for the moment.  I knew if this turned out just to be Joe sleeping somewhere with his radio turned down, there was no sense getting Manny involved in the middle of the night and setting up for an ass reaming the next day. 

We contacted Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office plus the Washington State Patrol.  It was protocol and they had to be informed.  Sector advised that the helicopter would be lifting off as soon as there was a bit of light. 

Don and I made all of our calls and as the first agents showed up after being called, I knew this was turning into a more serious incident. ‘

Shannon called and advised everything was okay at Joe’s house.  At least that was a relief. 

Then, just as it twilight, with just the palest light, the helicopter pilot’s voice came over the air and advised they would be enroute to our location.  I could feel the dread building inside of me for as each minute ticked away, the chance that it was just a screw up on Joe’s part got slimmer.

Then within a minute of the helicopter pilot’s transmission, Joe’s voice came across the air asking what we were looking for…

After the adrenalin had departed, Joe showed up and explained that he had his radio off scan and that it was on the wrong channel….that’s why he couldn’t hear us calling.

The next morning, I downplayed the incident with Manny and he seemed to be okay with the outcome.  He lived 120 miles away, what could he have done anyhow?

 

 

 

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