Brenda Tisdale, Museum Administrator, loves El Paso’s National Border Patrol Museum and has done more to shape it than any other person. She told Ruth and me that her mission is to preserve the Border Patrol’s history and traditions. Thursday is her nag day. Her patience has resulted in several display items, like this story-filled 1931 Model A Coupe.
This National Border Patrol Museum is the only one in the United States. The Border Patrol got its start way back in 1904 with the Mounted Watchman Guards and officially became the Border Patrol in 1924. It was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor, then the Department of Justice, and, as a result of 9-11, is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. It has more than 21,000 agents with most of them patrolling the Mexican-U.S. border. The museum opened its doors in 1985 and moved to its current location in northeast El Paso in 1994.
The museum was recently remodeled, and the excellent film being shown is only 2 months old. I wrote in my notebook “super contemporary!” It focuses on the duties of current agents and the stress these produce. For example, it’s not unusual for an agent to deal with 300 to 500 aliens in an 8 hour shift. Since 9-11 the Border Patrol’s mission has expanded from alien smuggling to terrorist threats, dismantling drug cartels, use of drones, etc. There have been more than 180 attempts to dig and use border-crossing tunnels since the first one was discovered in 1990. Now they’re found every year, 11 in 2014 alone.
The physical displays include motorized hang gliders, historic and current paramilitary-like uniforms, seized weapons etc. Emotional displays fully document agents killed in the line of duty, and there’s a memorial library that keeps their stories in the historical forefront. Ruth and I were lucky enough to meet a visiting, now retired service canine that I’ll tell more about later.
Brenda’s proudest acquisition for this museum is the 1931 Coupe. In 1999 the Border Patrol seized 2 antique vehicles from an alien smuggling organization. When it was found at a residence in Del Rio, receipts indicated that its owner had bought it with illegal proceeds from smuggling activities. Patient Brenda nagged until it was released for use in the National Border Patrol Museum. Also on display is a light green Pontiac Firebird that Motor Trend dubbed the fastest law enforcement pursuit vehicle in the U.S.