Looking for work? Consider heading for the border.

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act will allocate $30 million to the Department of Justice to be used to provide local law enforcement officials in states along the U.S.-Mexico border with additional personnel and equipment. The means job-hungry transplants could land on the fringes of California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

“The money is geared toward job creation and retention,” says Hannah August, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice.  “It will be primarily for local law enforcement agencies like the sheriff’s department.”

The Current State of the Border
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Mike Friel, the nation’s southern border is patrolled by more than 22,000 federal agents, not counting the number of local sheriffs who protect the borders in their own states

Although those agents were able to apprehend more than 700,000 illegal migrants and seize more than 2 million pounds of drugs in 2007, that number is still woefully inadequate to some critics.

“One constituency looking for addition support is sheriff-level law enforcement,” says Chris Bronk, a fellow for technology, society and public policy at the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “Many feel outmanned and outgunned.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had already begun holding recruiting events across the country in order to add 11,000 more workers in 2009. The stimulus act could add hundreds or even thousands of extra personnel to that number.

What Job Seekers Need To Know

Jobs with the Border Patrol or other law enforcement agency require physical and mental fitness, as well as an ability to communicate with others. You can be disqualified if you have a criminal record, are in poor health or fail a mandatory drug test.

Some agencies, such as the Border Patrol, require applicants to be younger than 40 at the time of selection if they have no prior experience in law enforcement. You also may have to demonstrate your judgment, people skills and problem-solving abilities before a panel of judges.

While many employers look for candidates with professional experience, many will accept inexperienced applicants as long as they have a college degree.

The department has yet to announce when local law enforcement agencies will be able to start bidding on the grant money, or which agencies will be allowed to bid. However, if you’re a U.S. citizen with a valid driver’s license and no criminal record, you can start your search today.

Here is a list of resources you can use to get in on the ground floor of a career in public service:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
has its recruitment drive in full swing. You can apply for a position online or call (877) CBP-5511 to find out if there is a recruitment event in your area.

The National Law Enforcement Recruiter’s Association is a professional organization geared toward recruiters, but job hunters can get access to LawEnforcementJobs.com through the NLERA’s website.

Officer.com has listings of hundreds of law enforcement jobs across the country, including university police officer and chief of police positions.

PoliceEmployment.com is an online source for federal, state and local law enforcement jobs. The site also provides links to professional and training information for working officers.

The State Department’s website has links to professional resources for people interested in law enforcement.

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