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"The Border Patrol is one of the few large law enforcement agencies that does not require a college degree or even a high school diploma and can offer pay of $70,000 after just a few years, factoring in overtime." That's from a New York Times article about the Border Patrol's efforts to increase recruiting in African-American communities since the agency is currently hard-up for recruits and only one percent black. The larger issue here is that when you decide that it would be good politics to double the size of an agency during a very brief span of time, you're then left with the difficult task of actually recruiting the manpower.

The Finnish Border Guard has a comparable mission of securing a long land border with a much poorer country but I think it's a relatively elite force. The United States is trying to maintain global military commitments, needs good people to police our large cities (indeed, we need more and better of them), run FBI counter-terrorism and organized crime operations, etc. Unless we're prepared to seriously bump the border patrol in the list of public sector priorities, which sounds like a bad idea to me, it seems to me that we'd be better off with a relatively small but high-quality force than with a large one riddled with problems like the recruit who "was recently ejected from the training academy after being arrested in a gun smuggling case."

Photo by Flickr user StormyRed 28 used under a Creative Commons license

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