2008 Distinguished Alumnus
Dan M. Harris, Jr.
Assistant Chief Patrol Agent, Marfa Sector, Marfa Texas
Ever since Dan Harris was a child, he knew that he wanted to be in law enforcement. After all, there were five generations of law enforcement officers in his family. As a senior in high school, he contacted George Lawless about the law enforcement program at SPC.
“Mr. Lawless became my mentor and my guide,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t ever trade the experience I had at SPC. It was everything I thought it would be and more.”
A graduate of Seagraves High School, he attended SPC from 1987-89 and received an associate of arts degree in criminal justice. He began his professional career as a police officer with the San Angelo Police Department in 1990, becoming the 14th member of his family to carry a badge. While on the force, he continued his college studies at Angelo State University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 1994.
Harris returned to South Plains College as an instructor in the law enforcement program from 1993-1995. He said coming back to the place he held in such high esteem was a wonderful experience.
“Being a young officer, I could bring my experiences to the classroom,” Harris said. “I found that I could help prepare the students for the streets. It was very inspirational.”
In May 1995, Harris took a job as a patrol agent with the U.S. Border Patrol. After a five-month academy in Artesia, N.M., he was assigned to the El Paso Sector, where he also served as a sector emergency medical technician.
Over the next four years, he was responsible for enforcing immigration and naturalization laws of the United States. He provided oral and written testimony in criminal proceedings, conducted training and evaluation of Border Patrol Academy graduates, authored and implemented the El Paso Sector Funeral Procedures/Honor Guard Manual and served on the El Paso Sector Honor Guard Team as a leader and instructor.
In September 1999, Harris was promoted to U.S. Border Patrol Senior Patrol Agent for Lordsburg, N.M. where he gathered intelligence for narcotics and alien smuggling cases. He formulated the National Critical Incident Response Manual that established procedures which ensure the proper emotional care of an agent’s family following a line-of-duty death.
The work Harris performed led to a promotion as U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Patrol Agent in October 2000. For the next 20 months, he was responsible for the overall operations of the Lordsburg, N.M. unit. He would plan, assign, direct, coordinate and review the daily work of unit agents. He also would receive and resolve complaints or grievances from the public. Harris reviewed cases and authorized prosecution of immigration law violators. He also coordinated the Honor Guard Units for the Department of Justice Attorney General Retirement and Swearing in Ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Harris was promoted to U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief where he served as staff advisor to the Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in Washington, D.C., from 2002-04.
In April 2004, Harris became Patrol Agent in Charge for Marfa Sector in Marfa, Texas. In this role, he was responsible for all operations of the Marfa Station in which he planned, directed, assigned and led all field operations for the Marfa Station Area of Responsibility encompassing more than 45,000 square miles of patrol area and 68 miles of International Boundary.
In that first year in Marfa, Harris was credited with making his largest narcotics seizure, 2,959 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $2.3 million.
This past year, he was accorded the agency’s highest award for courage, the Newton-Azrak Award. The presentation was made by Commissioner W. Ralph Basham, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, during a special ceremony in Washington.
Harris’ award came as a result of his actions during a shooting in East Texas in May 2007. After addressing a group gathered for a law enforcement memorial, Harris went to assist local officers called to the scene of a shooting. Two local sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed and another was wounded. Harris, an emergency medical technician, crawled to the wounded deputy and began to administer first aid while at risk of being shot, as well. The deputy recovered and returned to duty.
The award is named in honor of Theodore L. Newton and George F. Azrak, Border Patrol agents who were killed in the line of duty in San Diego County, Calif.
“At this point of my career, I am very happy with my accomplishments,” Harris said. “It’s a dangerous job that I find very rewarding.”
Harris was promoted to his current position less than a year ago. In this capacity as Assistant Chief Patrol Agent of the Marfa Sector, he oversees and supervises the Lubbock, Amarillo, Marfa and Presidio Border Patrol Stations.
“I know that I still have a lot to look forward to each day,” Harris said. “That’s the great attraction of this job. You don’t know what you will have to do to protect America’s borders.”
Harris and his wife, Katrina, have two children, Dan “Hunter” Harris III, 10, and Halee, 7. The family lives in Fort Davis, Texas.