U.S. Border Patrol in Montana adapts to changes caused by COVID

Posted at 3:00 PM, Oct 31, 2020

Border Patrol officers in the Havre Sector of the U.S.-Canada border have a lot of ground to cover — 456 miles to be exact. Their region includes six stations: St. Mary, Sweetgrass, Havre, Malta, Scobey and Plentywood. The agency employs more than 150 agents living and working in communities all across Montana.

"We patrol the border in a variety of ways,” said Patrol Agent In Charge Scott Jones.

Fiscal Year 2020 ended for the U.S. Border Patrol on Sept. 30, and Havre Sector saw a 41% arrest decrease compared to the previous year.

Havre Sector Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Good attributes the decrease in part to the agency's response to the pandemic: "We have an increased presence at the border. We've done some things as far as using different authorizations."

But that doesn't mean officers' jobs are getting any easier or less stressful. "At the ports of entry, it's essential travel only. So we have seen an increase of certain people that can't get through the ports of entry that normally could that are coming through in between the ports of entry. That's where we've been interdicting some folks,” Good said.

Overall, arrests for the Border Patrol as a whole across the nation dropped from 859,501 in FY19 to 207,665 in FY20. While marijuana seizures were down, hard narcotics saw an increase from the previous year.

A perhaps not often thought about job, but amid a pandemic one that may be more important than ever.