Harpers Ferry Advanced Training Center advances thousands in front line border protection

In Harpers Ferry, the 220-acre campus provides students with simulated training

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Everyday, Customs and Border officers and agents protect the U.S. in many ways.

You may not know, but Harpers Ferry is where these men and women are trained.

“We’re not just educating people, we're training people for the jobs that they have,” said director of the Advanced Training Center, Clark Messer.

They are already officers and agents in the field, but with help from the ATC, they learn how to instruct the material and take it back out into the field to train field level officers and agents.

"All of our training courses and the course ware and curriculum goes through a formal process to make sure it's all standard and legally defensible,” said Messer.

In Harpers Ferry, the 220-acre campus provides students with simulated training exercises.

"It reinforces their skills and also a way for them to implant experience files in their heads so that if they ever get into a situation in the field like the one they encountered in training, they have an answer,” said assistant director for firearms training, Peter Lobur.

"Even more so now, with all the things going on around the country, making sure our officers and agents are properly trained up to an established standard, a universal accepted standard,” said supervising border patrol agent, Anthony Skahill.

Even with the recent focus on border patrol under the Trump Administration, officers and agents say their mission continues to remain the same.

"My line of work is training and making sure the guys are getting the training they need. That's never going to change no matter who's in office,” said Lobur.

So if change were to come, they say they will be ready.

"We can always get better, we can always make ourselves safer, we can always increase our competency, we can always get to that expert level,” said Skahill.

Whether that means handling a shooter in a movie theater or gathering intelligence, the ATC serves as a training the trainer facility, preparing students for their posts on the front line.

This year, they say around 8,000 people will pass through the center.

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