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Thread: Border Patrol officials fighting low morale in the RGV sector

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Border Patrol officials fighting low morale in the RGV sector

    Local survey shows higher figures than 2015 national results for DHS

    Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 9:30 am

    RIO GRANDE VALLEY — Low morale and lack of funding continue to be pressing issues for federal agents tasked with protecting the border, according to a recent survey, but local officials are working across the aisle to sway future results.

    For the last several years, employee surveys for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which includes Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol, have reflected low morale and a need for more investment in resources across most agencies, according officials.

    “I am disappointed that our efforts to improve employee satisfaction at DHS were not reflected department-wide in this year’s results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint survey,” wrote Secretary Jeh C. Johnson, head of DHS, after the results of the 2015 questionnaire were released in December.

    “I am disappointed but not discouraged. We will not give up. We know that improving employee satisfaction across a 22-component, 240,000-person department takes time,” he added.

    In the Rio GrandeValley, 54 percent of Border Patrol employees indicated they were satisfied with their job, according to recently released results specifically for this area.

    A total of 27 percent of the 160 employees surveyed said they were not satisfied and 18 percent said they were neutral.

    Nearly 60 percent of employees in the Laredo sector responded they were satisfied with their job and 45 percent of them said they felt their agency was successful at accomplishing its mission.

    Nationwide, nearly 50 percent of DHS employees responded they were satisfied with their job and more than 27 percent said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

    RGV Sector Chief Manuel Padilla said Wednesday he believes the numbers do not reflect an accurate picture of the more than 3,000 employees in his sector because there is a really low response rate to the survey.

    “We have a lot of work to do,” Padilla said. “We need to increase the responses to the survey. We had about a 19 percent response rate to those surveys and what I would like to get is a 60 or 70 percent response rate.”

    He said they are working with the local union to help them meet their goal in the coming years.

    Padilla took over as sector chief in January when Kevin Oaks stepped down after 14 months in the position.

    Local union president Chris Cabrera said Thursday Padilla is the first chief to approach the union to discuss solutions to the low morale numbers reflected by the annual survey.

    “Overall people in the sector love their job,” Cabrera said, later adding, “DHS-wide people are unhappy with their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that the guys hate their jobs. They are just dissatisfied with certain aspects of what we do or don’t do.”

    “They see a lot of the crap that comes along with it, with some of these rules and policies that come down from D.C. as far as how to do things or what’s needed. What’s needed is people need to come down here and take a look at what we actually do and how to do it instead of letting the decisions be made from the glass palace up in D.C.”

    In the RGV sector, four out of five employees surveyed worked in the field as opposed to working in headquarters. More than half of them, 53 percent, said they did not have sufficient resources, including people, materials and budget, to get their job done.

    Cabrera said there are a few things they are using, such as body armor for frontline agents and specialty units that need to be replaced, and they could use more assault rifles and night-vision goggles, which they don’t have enough of to assign to every agent.

    “There are a lot of different things that we need, not just that but the man-power itself,” Cabrera said. “We are struggling over here to keep up with what’s going on now, but they are not sending us any fresh bodies in here to help us shore up the loose ends.”

    Last month, Tony Reardon, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, told a congressional panel CBP urgently needs more resources to hire more staff and strengthen border and economic security. The union represents 25,000 CBP employees nationwide.

    “Many CBP employees are forced to put in long hours of overtime and accept assignments far from home, which damages morale,” Reardon said at the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.

    Cabrera said he doesn’t agree with Reardon’s statement because he sees a lot of agents from other sectors with less traffic who volunteer to come to the RGV because they want to gain more experience and see more action.

    The survey did reflect some positive aspects about the RGV sector. When employees were asked if their agency is successful at accomplishing its mission, 42.5 percent responded in a positive manner compared to 34 percent who responded negatively.

    About 45 percent of employees responded they felt protected from health and safety hazards on the job compared to about 36 percent who said they did not. Also, most of the employees had positive responses to questions about their supervisors.

    “On the positive side, if you compare this sector to other areas, we actually scored higher,” Padilla said during a media event Wednesday when agents reenacted a migrant rescue inside a Brooks County ranch.

    “If you were to do a survey of the people that you saw today out there working, I would venture to say that you would get very high numbers, but what happens is because of the low response rate you get people that want to express their frustrations,” he added.
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  2. #2
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Hang on BP agents...the calvary is on the way!
    Searcher932 likes this.

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