Tuesday, August 12, 2008

RWA Conference Workshop Highlights

NOTE: Photos added to the Barley or Hops post (August 9)

Going to RWA, despite the fun and excitement, is stressful.
With its jam-packed schedule of conflicting sessions, just deciding where to be and when is a challenge. The recorded sessions help with the decision making, because there's a chance to hear what's been going on at the other sessions (although there have been glitches, so it's not a sure thing).

The first day, however, was 'easy' because it was pre-conference. On Tuesday, the Kiss of Death chapter had its annual workshop. This year it was an inside look at Customs and Border Patrol. I touched on this in an earlier post (with pictures of Duffy the beagle).

This is the portable X-ray unit. We got to ride in the back of the truck and watch as they examined the contents of the green cargo container.

Takeaway tidbits – the 5 layers of security for goods coming into our ports.

1. 24 hours before a ship leaves its home port, it has to register with US customs.
2. CSI – Container Security Initiative. There are agents in 50 countries who try to stop problems before they get anywhere near our shores.
3. CTPAT – Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: Teams are sent overseas to audit the supply chains from raw materials to finished product
4. Remote Portal Monitors: All vehicles, with or without containers are tested for radiation before being allowed entry.

(those yellow pylons on the left are the monitors)

5. Officers on the Ground: Any unusual readings are checked by a CBP agent. At the Oakland port, they're tied into the science labs at Livermore for interpretation of any unusual readings, since many 'normal' items will contain moderate levels of radioactive substances (ceramics, for one, including the porcelain used in toilets). Sometimes, they'll get readings from the drivers, who might be undergoing medical treatment that will trigger an alarm.

Some stats (based on 2005 data)

On a typical day, the USCBP

1,181,605 passengers and pedestrians, including 630,976 aliens.
69,370 truck, rail and sea containers
235,732 incoming international air passengers
71,858 passengers/crew arriving by ship
$81,834298 in fees, duties & tariffs.

62 arrests at ports of entry
3,257 apprehensions between ports for illegal entry

2,187 pounds of narcotics in 65 seizures at ports of entry
3,354 pounds of narcotics in 20 seizures between ports of entry
$77,360 in undeclared or illicit currency and $329,119 worth of fraudulent commercial merchandise (think Gucci knock-offs) at ports of entry.
Another factoid: The major manufacturers give training to CBP personnel on how to recognize the 'real' stuff.
1,145 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 147 agricultural pests at ports of entry. (Thanks to "workers" like Duffy)

Refuses entry of:
45 criminal aliens attempting to enter the US

7 illegal migrants in distress or dangerous conditions between ports of entry

Protects more than:
5000 miles of border with Canada
1900 miles of border with Mexico
95,000 miles of shoreline

There's more, but stats get boring. However, the tour did give us a very good look at what the 42.000 employees of CBP do every day. Those 42,000 are broken down into 18,000 officers, 11,300 Border Patrol agents, 1800 agricultural specialists, 650 air and marine officers, and 500 pilots.

We'll see how many books come out with CBP characters and plots. We certainly got the fodder. I'll post about more workshops over the next few days.


Ray said...

You sure wouldn't know how much works is done in our ports to hear the talking heads on TV news. The same talking heads that say the FDA is doing nothing to find the source of the contaminated food.

I just caught up on your blog. The pictures are absolutely fantastic.


Terry Odell said...

Thanks Ray -- there are a lot of 'thankless jobs' out there. Glad you liked the pictures. Have to share credit with hubby and his snazzy Nikon for some of them.