Alum finds career with Border Patrol after criminal justice degree

by SARA MARSHALL//Editor-in-Chief


Dan Harris, Jr. has law enforcement in his blood.

His father had duel careers serving in law enforcement and education. He was a Denver City police officer and reserve commander of the Yoakum County Sheriff’s Department and with the Denver City ISD as a coach and eventually high school principal.

“I am a sixth generation law enforcement officer,” Harris said. “As a small child, all I have ever wanted to do was be in law enforcement, a true calling in my blood.”

The Denver City native moved to Seagraves before his sophomore year and soon graduated from Seagraves High School.

Harris chose to attend South Plains College after graduating because of the great reputation of the Law Enforcement Program and of SPC’s overall positive reputation.

“I gained so much from attending SPC,” Harris said. “From the education and experiences to the relationships, just so much. I was named one of two Outstanding Law Enforcement Students in 1989, and today we both are senior leaders in our Law Enforcement agencies and still work together.”

Coming from a small town, Harris found that the small community of SPC was very similar to the atmosphere of his high school.

“The transition was very easy, and the staff and my fellow students were great,” Harris said. “My best memory at SPC was meeting my wife, Katrina, in the Texan Dining Hall. We have now been married for almost 27 years.”

While attending SPC, Harris kept himself extremely busy. While taking a full course load, he worked full time for Levelland EMS, served as president of the SPC Law Enforcement Club and was a member of the Student Government Association.

“Times are definitely different for college students now, than when I was at SPC,” Harris said. “Primarily in the technology world. My advice is not to let that technology such as the Internet ruin your future. It can be such a great thing to help you, especially with your studies, but there are a lot of bad people and bad things on that web.”

After graduating in 1989 with a degree in Criminal Justice, Harris moved to San Angelo, where he went to work for the city as a police officer. Soon after, he went on to attend the U.S. Border Patrol Academy, using his prior education to aid him while moving up the ranks.

“My SPC education has helped me in my current role as a great foundation of both general and law enforcement education and experience,” Harris said. “My role now is to lead those who provide the most outstanding training to new Border Patrol agents and advance training to approximately 20,000 current agents. My SPC education is a key part of that.”

In 2008, Harris was recognized as a Distinguished Alum by the SPC administration.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized as a SPC Distinguished Alum,” Harris said. “I was awarded for my leadership in the law enforcement profession, including being awarded the [U.S. Border Patrol’s] highest award for valor and courage, the Newton-Azrak award.”

In July 2017, Harris took over the Artesia Border Patrol Training Academy as the Chief Patrol Agent.

“I wanted to make a positive difference in the training and education of both our future agents and our current force of over 19,000,” Harris said.

According to Harris, the U.S. Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection with the primarily responsibility to keep terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the United States. These agents are responsible for protecting the areas between the land border ports of entry.

“I chose the U.S. Border Patrol for many reasons,” Harris said. “I love the outdoors, the desert, our country, and love catching the bad guys, especially those who bring drugs into our country. It is a remarkable thing to serve and protect. I would never change anything about my career choice.”

Harris said his favorite part of being a Border Patrol agent is that he gets to make a positive difference in the security of the country every day.

“As with any law enforcement officer, you have times of great hardship and challenges, shear terror and tragedy,” Harris said. “Those are what make your job so challenging. But when you save someone’s life, when you make a positive difference in someone’s life and in the protection of our country, well, words can’t describe how incredible your service truly is. My experiences have been absolutely phenomenal.”

Out of the many years of being in the Border Patrol, Harris has had his fair share of crazy and wonderful moments.

“There are so many best moments it would be hard to define just one,” Harris said.  “Receiving the U.S. Border Patrol’s highest award for valor and courage, the Newton-Azrak Award would be one of those. Receiving that honor in memory of our fallen heroes, those who have died in the line of duty and knowing that 10 years ago this year two of my fellow officers did not come home with us after that call, well, honoring them will always be one of those moments.”

Harris has so much wisdom to share with current SPC students.

“Whatever career field you choose, be your absolute best and don’t let anyone or anything ruin your life,” Harris said. “Work hard and enjoy every minute. I sure enjoyed every minute of SPC. I’m so proud to be an SPC alum and wish everyone at SPC the absolute very best.”


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