Historic Border Patrol Badge Artifact

The U.S. Border At Night, Part 2

Inside the cab of the truck the Agent has been provided with a rudimentary viewer. The Agent must sit here in the cab for even ten hours. His radios are tuned to various frequencies so he can remain alert to the needs of other Agents and to border areas of interest. He alerts Agents to the targets he detects on his video viewer / monitor.

An obvious but important limitation with FLIR is the reality that such a camera can only “see” an area about 500 feet wide. Thus, the Agent must constantly move the imager on its pan / tilt head looking for targets. When looking at one target in one direction smugglers can be crossing in even larger numbers but out of the camera’s field of view.

U.S. Border Patrol FLIR Display

In the image at the left you can see the small image display that is key to spotting the heat signature of smugglers and others illegally entering the United States.

These truck mounted systems are moved at dusk from their daytime storage lots to high-points along the border. The specific locatin for each FLIR camera truck varies from night to night to protect the Agent from attack. Where ever a FLIR camera truck has been placed for the night, large numbers of illegals or high value / dangerous cargo is expected to come over the border. The job is tedious but critical.

U.S. Border Patrol FLIR Operator

The actual display — in this case not the vehicle see in the previous image — is in green and white. A simple control stick allows the agent to pan and tilt the camera which is 20 feet above him.

The large truck frame upon which the camera has been mounted helps keep the image stable in high winds.

A USBP Agent is a special breed. He usually works alone. While the United States Marine Corps might send out a squad to patrol an area, the Border Patrol Agent patrols by himself. He can only depend upon his instincts and the support of scarce new technology to protect him from danger.

U.S. Border Patrol FLIR
Here is a representative image from his display.
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