WARROAD, Minn. (WCCO) — Just outside of Warroad, a border patrol station is tasked with tracking 9,000 square miles.
Patrol agent Bob Tuttle is at the helm of what happens here.
“The mission is the same from the southern border to the northern border,” he said
“The biggest threat is really the vastness,” he added.
While the expansive area is difficult to monitor in the summer, it becomes even more of a challenge in the winter, when Lake of the Woods turns to ice.
“Which means if people want to take advantage of this area, they’ve got options, too,” Tuttle said.
Those options weren’t fully realized until Sept. 11, 2001, back when just two border agents worked the Warroad station.
“I knew it was something that would change my career path,” Tuttle said. “It was going to change our agency, it was going to change what we did on a daily basis and really it has.”
The threat of terrorism took over and while U.S. Customs and Border Protection doesn’t share manpower numbers per station, we do know nearly 200 agents patrol the Grand Forks sector.
In Warroad, they are the largest law enforcement agency in the area, relying on hunting and fishing guides and farmers for a lot of their information.
“If they see stuff that is troublesome or worrisome to them, we get that phone call,” Tuttle said.
Like anyone in his line of work, Tuttle has been following the situation at the southern border closely. He believes the humanity is too often missed in what border agents do day-to-day.
“I’ve seen it all from agents donating clothes they have on their body to shoes to money,” he said. “We have a very good empathetic group of border patrol agents out there.”
But Tuttle believes it comes down to the law, where a line doesn’t exist.
“We realize what we could be faced with and we march on,” Tuttle said.