CHAMPLAIN - For many years now, the Border Patrol have sought help from the public, in hopes of reducing crime in border communities.
According to Mark Henry, operations officer with the Border Patrol at Swanton Sector in Swanton, Vt., the Border Awareness Campaign is not a new concept.
"What we are doing is re-reaching out to the public. It's community outreach," he explained. "We're interested in people who live along the border or travel through the border area and if they see anything that is suspicious regarding smuggling activity along the border area, to give us a call."
Swanton Sector, which encompasses all of Vermont, New Hampshire and half of New York, is constantly traveling through the communities as a part of its community outreach.
"We have town hall meetings where we will meet with elected officials to advise them what the Border Patrol's national strategy is, our resourcing philosophy and how it affects Swanton Sector," said Henry.
One of the major parts of the campaign, however, is for people to contact Swanton Sector if they see any suspicious activity.
"If you see a suspicious vehicle in the area," said Henry as an example.
"If you were in Perry Mills and it's 2:30 in the morning and you saw a Massachusetts tag on a back road, you would wonder 'What's that Massachusetts registered car doing in Perry Mills at 2:30 in the morning,'" he added. "That might be something somebody would want to know."
If suspicious activity is spotted, Henry asks people to call 1-800-689-3362, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We will go out and check out the activity and see what it is," he said. "It may very well be innocent."
All calls are anonymous. The information to provide includes what activity is happening, where, and any description of a vehicle or person the caller can give.
Timeliness is one of the most important things when contacting Border Patrol.
"It's not as effective if you call a week later," Henry said.
Tips to Border Patrol can also be given in person.
"We have Border Patrol agents out all the time," explained Henry. "People stop us all the time and give us information."
Henry, who began with the Swanton Sector in 1978, said people gave him tips daily.
"If you look at our statistics over five years ... our apprehensions and arrests of illegal entries into the United States have decreased," he explained. "I think the reason for that is because of the presence of the Border Patrol and the information we receive from the community that makes it much more difficult for people to cross in the United States from Canada illegally."