“So you are telling agents not to chase suspects coming across the border? That’s insane! Why?”

Hearing the former president of the Border Patrol Union of California tell me so felt like I’d get scalded by the flaming bureaucratic sun if I stood any closer to him. So I shuffled a bit to the left in my booth hoping to escape a solar flare.

Sometimes you hear things coming out of these large agencies like the VA, DMV, and Border Patrol that make you wonder how these agencies don’t just come tumbling down like a Miami condo.

America spends billions on border protection and on trying to keep really bad people out. Instead, we lock up kids and good hard-working people trying to achieve a better life, but let the narcos drive off into the sunset.

But Why Tell That to the Border Agents?

The reason the union in Imperial Valley, California, was advising officers to not pursue suspects is that an agent, doing his job, gave chase to a narco suspect. In the chase, he damaged his vehicle and was suspended by the agency.

For a damaged vehicle…

How does this happen we all are asking at this point with our inside voices?

If you know anything about economic theory it’s very simple.

Incentives drive decisions.

If you know you risk losing your job by doing your job (giving chase to bad guys), you are going to take your foot off the gas pedal.

In this case, the former president of the Union, in an effort to protect the members, said frankly to just don’t chase the suspects anymore.

How long will it take for narcos to figure this out and realize they could just vamos their way out of a bad spot? Not long I’m guessing.

Parting Shots

Putting the correct incentives in place and checking them periodically should be at the heart of any good organization.

Unfortunately, we have systematic incompetence at many of these organizations. This leaves great people working in them frustrated. And they will eventually leave out of frustration. The majority of who’ll be left will not be inclined to make a difference. They will just collect a paycheck and cite rule #449. (I just made that rule up but you see what I’m putting down).

The part of the play that really scares me is that America reads like a Roman history book, and we all know how that ended up.

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So remember this next time you are filling out your ballots or have an opportunity to speak at your next town hall meeting.

And chalk this up to another California absurdity in government leadership mismanagement.

Suggested reading about narcos:
El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency
A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the “Mexican Drug War”
The Cali Cartel: Beyond Narcos (War on Drugs)
Narco Submarines: Covert Shores Recognition Guide