I just happen to be going through some of my files and reports, when I came across some of the "documented" suggestions I had made to Customs Management to help improve and change procedures that U.S. Customs utilizes to accomplish it's mission and goals.
One of its missions is to fully identify all persons coming from a foreign country and verify their citizenship as part of its "cross designation program" with the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service.
One of the pet peeves that I had, was the situation with how Customs dealt with Felons, Fugitives and other persons who failed or refused to identify themselves at the border crossing without any certifiable documentation or legal identification.
This is a common "trick" used to hide the Felon's identity because of a possible NCIC warrant or an extraditable offense. Most of these are felony categories like: Murder, Robbery, Rape,Assault, Narcotics Violators, Arsonists, Narcotics & Alien Smugglers, Child Molesters, Kidnapping, Forgerers, Fraud, etc... (just to name a few of the types of cases I have personally apprehended) These are just the type of people that are "excludable" under U.S. Immigration laws. Unless, of course you are a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien.
It seemed to me that everytime I caught one of these individuals coming across and claiming they were U.S. Citizens, I then had to determine what else were they that seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. When I asked nicely for other documentation to prove who these persons were, I got the usual nervous or angry response trying to divert me from my job. I was very assertive and sometimes tenacious, in order to accomplish my job. I wanted to make sure that these certain human "targets" weren't something very dangerous or just someone trying to evade a small traffic warrant.
As the usual case would be, most of these "targets" were serious felons and narcotics smugglers. After a few years of experience you develop a sixth sense and you know how to "trip up" these people's stories and lies. Some are carrying loaded guns and other weapons. Who says working at the border is not dangerous?
After we caught the felon or fugitive, handcuffed them and put them in a holding cell for safe keeping, the appropriate law enforcement agency would come to extradite the person and get most of the credit.(Heard that story before?) An assist is just as good. Especially when the incident report reflects what actually happened.
One particular case come to my mind when I received an "anonymous" tip from a confidential informant about a U.S. Citizen who was a child molester living in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.(Just a few miles south of Tijuana-Mexico and San Diego)
As was the procedure, I collected as much of the data on this suspect and I assured the informant that I would keep his identity a secret. There was a safety issue, and I still won't go into detail about that. Anyway, after submitting this information through proper channels and through the M.O.I.R. intelligence systems, I assumed the information was going to be passed on to the appropriate law enforcement agencies as is the policy and requirement. It was not!
I saw the San Diego police liaison officer at our location in San Ysidro. Since I had occasion to work with him on a regular basis, I asked him if he ever got the alleged "fugitive" that I sent information on over three months prior. He said he didn't, so I pulled the information out and passed on the pertinent information so he could apprehend this guy. The S.D.P.D. officer came back the very next day and someone said that I was wanted by the SDPD. I wondered, did I get a parking ticket or what? Instead, the SDPD liasion agent told me he had someone I wanted to meet. I played along with this, and low and behold, it was Johnathan Arthur Hards, a convicted child molester who was on the run for over 15 years. Mr. Hards was in cuffs and I took his picture for my records. Good thing too, because Customs didn't want to acknowledge anything about this arrest/seizure that I initiated.
Eventually, one of the highest priorities in U.S.Customs was to go after child pornography. The man I was responsible for catching was deeply involved in those particular activities. Why didn't Customs management want me to get credit, I'll never know. I was just trying to do my job.The Shift Supervisor didn't even encourage me to write a report when I told him about it. I did it anyway to cover myself. I might have to go to court, but not the Supervisor. If there's no narcotics, I'll take an Immigration case. If that's not good enough, I'll take whatever I can get.
One of the things I did to highlight this problem with processing suspected Fugitives, was to submit a suggestion in the form of a memorandum to District Director Allan J. Rappoport back in January 3, 1990. This was just after making Senior Customs Inspector in late 1989. I wanted to try even harder to make things very efficient and operate smoothly. Unfortunately, Mr.. Rappoport didn't take any immediate action over my suggestion.
I had to repeat myself through the Employee Suggestion Program and/or the M.A.P. program in San Diego. I think that after looking back, the MAP program was a way of letting management steal your ideas before they were submitted through proper channels at the Treasury level. Two different systems. I was later informed that I should always submit these important suggestions to Washington,D.C. direct. Especially if they impact on the Customs Service nationally.
Eventually, I got a confirmation letter of "appreciation" from CMC Director Rudy M. Camacho regarding this and many other suggestions I made. I believe I made at least 35-40 suggestions regarding the U.S. Customs Service on various issues of serious concerns.(1990-1997) Some suggestions, I received cash awards. Like the Line release "Commercial Identification Program" this is where the background checks of every truck driver is supposed to be completed before they can use a Customs facility. You would be surprised how many of these drivers had Felony warrants and such.
Shortly after the local MAP program started, it dissolved quickly. It appeared that there were only a couple of us making most of the suggestions. If you don't suggest, you don't benefit or get the credit. (You got to play to win) You need feedback in order to measure how your doing or what is acceptable. One important point to mention is that I'll bet that there were a lot of suggestions that were made that upper management got credit or promotions out of someone else's hard work.I know of a few.
Due to a suggestion I made, a system was later adopted. Later, special fingerprint identification systems were adopted without any further recognition or benefit for myself. This was a nationally impacted suggestion like the line release suggestion.