NCTC Students’ Visit to the Border Patrol


NCTC students the Swanton Border Patrol. Photo credit: Lt. Jason Wetherby

Cooper O'Connell, Writer

On Feb. 9, students from the Northwest Technical Center’s Public Safety and Fire Services program went to visit the Border Patrol in Swanton

According to student participant Dominick Bessette (‘22), students arrived at school earlier than usual in order to board the bus in time for departure. Once they arrived at the border facility, the group took a tour around the location viewing the vehicles, ATVs and snowmobiles used in border enforcement and everyday activities. Students were also shown the holding cells and inner workings of the complex, including the processing of individuals coming over the border illegally. 

Bessette said that after touring around the center, students were given the opportunity to partake in more hands-on activities, such as using the Border Patrol’s state-of-the-art shooting simulator, which cost upwards of $380,000. Students used a modified Glock handgun equipped with a CO2 canister to mimic the kickback of firing live rounds. 

Bessette was the first student to be given the chance to try it out. “It was kind of weird,” he said. Bessette added, “You know it’s not real, but it feels extremely real.” 

Bessette said that while using the simulator, students went through multiple scenarios, including assisting an officer with an arrest and even partaking in a shooting drill. The simulation’s purpose was to help you anticipate what might happen next and how to react accordingly, with proper procedure in mind. 

After students completed the drills, they were shown their reaction time and overall performance. Officers asked the students follow-up questions, including having them explain what they did and why they did it. 

Ryan Campbell (‘22) said, “They asked us what we saw the first time around, and then we watched it again. The amount of stuff I missed was quite a lot. Then I saw that other people missed the same things, but once you re-watched it, you’re like, oh I got this wrong, but you have to be accurate with your story and what you saw.” 

After an exciting and informative day, students boarded the bus headed back to school. 

“It was really fun, and I’m glad we went because it’s something not everyone gets to do. It was a very special opportunity, and I’m glad they were able to provide it to us,” Skyye Lebeau (‘22) said.