DEA Detail / Don’t Speak Spanish, Don’t Bother Putting In

For the last decade, other agencies have tapped the Border Patrol for help with the Mexican criminal population. We were proud to help out and had a few agents who would step up and assist with wire taps, translating documents, etc. When one of our Hispanic agents was assigned to the Skagit Valley task force, he kicked ass as an undercover agent and was able to penetrate deeper into the drug organizations due to his playing the part. Make no mistake, all of the agents we assigned to these task forces did outstanding work. This started a trend of other agencies specifically requesting Hispanic, Spanish speaking agents for these details. Prior till now, the Chief would select the best qualified BORDER PATROL AGENT for the detail. This change concerns us for obvious reasons. Below is our Demand to Bargain with the Agency over this change.

September 26, 2014
Dan M. Harris, Jr.
Chief Patrol Agent
2410 Nature’s Path Way
Blaine, WA 98230

Re: Demand to Bargain Regarding Changes to Selection Criteria for the DEA Detail

Dear Chief,
On September 9, 2014, a customary detail solicitation for the Drug Enforcement Agency was announced by management via email. On September 23, 2014, the same position was re-announced with significant changes to the selection criteria. This criterion is used to select the best qualified agent for the detail.
The Union considers some of these changes confusing and others alarming; due to the fact that they would exclude the vast majority of bargaining unit agents. For ease of reference I will list the changes and the addition of new criteria to the detail solicitation.
• Ability to testify in court proceedings
This statement is confusing because we were lead to believe the ability to testify in court proceedings was a condition of employment.
• Spanish Language Fluency
o Ability to text in Spanish
o Ability to interview Spanish speaking subjects
o Ability to transcribe Spanish language phone calls
There is currently a Spanish language proficiency standard in the Border Patrol. By adding this criterion, it is clear to the applicant that only a native Spanish speaker or an agent with expert Spanish language skills is suitable for this detail. We find this alarming because this kind of training and/or requirement has never existed in the Border Patrol, the DEA or any other federal law enforcement agency.
• Willingness to commit to DEA for one year
The Union is confused by this statement because the applicant putting in for this detail acknowledges the one to two year obligation. This statement raises the question that there may be undefined commitments that are not explicitly stated in the announcement.
The Union demands to bargain over these changes in working conditions. Never before has an agent been held to such standards for this detail. These changes exclude a vast majority of Border Patrol agents for this career enhancing detail and ability to promote their career.
The following initial bargaining proposals are submitted at this time:
1. Hold in abeyance the new selection criteria until all agents are provided the training to meet such criteria.
2. Provide tuition for Blaine Border Patrol agents to attend advanced Spanish classes at local colleges or language centers.
3. Provide access to the Rosetta Stone internet web application for all Blaine Sector Border Patrol agents.
The aforementioned are initial bargaining proposals and are by no means all inclusive. The Union intends to bargain over this change to the fullest extent of the law, including all attendant third party proceedings. Please contact me at your earliest convenience to set a time to meet and discuss these proposals or with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at (360) 441-1067 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. or via e-mail at chris.ramey.gov@gmail.com If I’m unavailable, please contact Local 2913 President Michael Cox for additional assistance in this matter.
Sincerely,
Christopher P. Ramey
Steward
NBPC/AFGE Local 2913

Comments

  1. Brandon

    I find it intriguing that the union takes issue with a single sector detail. Is there a current sector detail selection policy? If my union is now worried about the Chief selecting the best qualified agent for a detail, why isn’t it bargaining to send the most qualified agent with boating and marine experience to the coast guard detail, etc? I would think that if the DEA is requesting a Patrol agent to augement it’s investigations into Hispanic based smuggling, that the agency would select a Hispanic oriented agent. It would seem frivolous otherwise. Likewise, if the DEA were requesting augmentation to assist with white supremesist smuggling, the agency would provide the most qualified bald, Anglo agent. I believe my union should be bargaining to establish a clear over riding detail management policy instead of singling out a single detail. San Diego had an agent assigned to a detail management team to ensure fairness across the board. Maybe it’s Blaine sector management did the same .

    • Mike Cox

      We have proposed a Detail Policy for years, mgmt. sees no need for one. We also proposed UC details for agents who meet a need,like Hispanic, Anglo, etc. UC agents do not run cases, therefore all agents are qualified for task force details.

      • Brandon

        Would the union agree that the chief Should select the agent with the most marine and boating experience for the coast guard detail? It is apparent that sector is deficient in the detail department. I have requested on several occasions as to what exactly the detail duties and expectations are and my station has been unable to disclose these specific duties prior to the detail announcement closing. I guess it’s sort of like congress. Put in for the detail and if you get it, then you can find out what exactly you are doing for the next year. I finally put in for a few detIls this round.

  2. Brandon

    Maybe instead of proposing a detail policy for years, the union could demand to bargain for one. I think it would be more productive than focusing on a single limited detail.

  3. casey miller

    Task force details should be open to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, color or cultural upbringing. It is one thing if every member of a specific task force is required to be a fluent Spanish speaker (and I mean everyone, to include all SO guys, DEA guys and so on). 2 out of 3 of the last DEA task force guys would not meet this new criteria; 2 out of 3 of the last NWRDTF guys would not meet this new criteria. And they seemed to do just fine. If they want translators then they can go hire some.

    In my opinion, if this is a specific request from the DEA and they only want agents that meet this criteria then we send them no one. We cannot discriminate and exclude 90% of the agents in the sector. Just because the DEA request something that do not mean they get it. We request shit all the time and how does that work out for us.

  4. Brandon

    Casey: That’s a well stated argument and I would tend to agree with you. Until sector has an actual detail management policy, every announcement is open to the whim of management. This feels like the union is focused on rearranging the tidal pool while ignoring the ocean: everything’s fine until the next wave floods the tidal pool. Demand to fix the ocean, and the tidal pools won’t matter.

    • casey miller

      I agree with the fact that there are guys that just want to enjoy another detail. This makes in almost impossible for the majority of agents to get the opportunity to gain the valuable training and experience. That is why these sector details should be one and done. They are described as a career enhancing details right? Once you have completed said detail you can check that box and move on. How does it enhance your career any more to do it again? Why should you be allowed to do it again and take that spot away for another agent that is trying to enhance his/her career?

  5. L135

    If the DEA is requesting someone fluent in Spanish, sending someone fluent in Spanish seems common sense to me. I dont see the problem. Same with coast guard detail. Alot of marine unit guys who dedicate themselves should have preference and a chance to build their career over someone else who is just putting in to enjoy another detail.

    • Mike Cox

      When they request a spansih speaker for a certain task, we send one. We are talking about a two year task force detail that has serious career impact experience. Should only a marine certified agent get the CG detail? NO. BLS and SMS do not have the same opportunities for that training BLH has. In a small sector like ours, you shouldn’t have more opportunities because of your station. And you certainly shouldn’t have more opportunities because of your ethnicity. THATS THE LAW!

    • casey miller

      I agree with the fact that there are guys that just want to enjoy another detail. This makes in almost impossible for the majority of agents to get the opportunity to gain the valuable training and experience. That is why these sector details should be one and done. They are described as a career enhancing details right? Once you have completed said detail you can check that box and move on. How does it enhance your career any more to do it again? Why should you be allowed to do it again and take that spot away for another agent that is trying to enhance his/her career?

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