Communication Process in the Border Patrol
Communication Process in the Border Patrol
One of the key components in every organization is communication, and it can be observed at the level of group behavior. Better understanding of the effectiveness of communication is of utter importance to the overall success of organization. The United States Border Control (USBC) Agency is one of organizations requiring very effective communication mechanism to perform its duties properly (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 2012).
Any communication is commonly divided into the one within the USBC, and the one outside the USBC. In the USBC, communication serves the function of connecting the agents of the USBC so that mutual goals could be achieved. The communication climate in the USBC can be described as professionally warm and well-developed. There are different directions of communicational flow in the USBC: upward communication, downward communication and sideward communication. Upward communication goes up the official hierarchy, from the lower to the higher level in the USBC. Information goes from the subordinates to the superiors. It is mostly used for sending information associated with the proposals system, agents opinion, work insight, attitudes, and problems of the agents. It is important that communication is free and unhindered as the main drawback of the upward communication is message-filtering (Robbins, & Judge, 2009, p. 352).
Downward communication flows from the higher to the lower levels in the USBC. It includes giving orders, broadening of ideas and communicational knowledge. It is time consuming and its most usual problem is the loss or denying of information on the path through the chain of command; misunderstanding of the directions is quite common, therefore, a backward connection has to be established in order to confirm the transmission of correct and full information. Sideward communication can occur in horizontal and diagonal way (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p 354).
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Horizontal communication happens among people of the same status within a department or among different working units. Diagonal communication appears among people of different status and there is no formal connection between people in the USBC communication system. The major strength of the USBC communication system is the vertical chain of command people know what to do and do not ask questions backwards in case of critical necessity. In fact, it is supported by the various channels of information flow that allow managers and executives of the Agency be on top of the situation. This is the major weakness as well. Vertical chain of command might be a good way to organize accuracy and speed of commands execution, but in case of inappropriate commands, there are few chances to correct them reasonably. Horizontal communication is appropriate within patrol groups, only so going upwards for an agent is problematic in this case.
The channels of information flow can be described as formal small group network and informal group network (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 358). Formal small groups networks can be of three types: chain network, circle network, and wheel network. The basic features of each network set the differences between networks. The USBC includes all communicational networks considering the peculiarity of the Agencys activities. Chain network of formal small groups usually follows the formal chain of command, whereas the circle network has the leader as the central person for conducting all communications within the group. The main characteristic of a wheel network is its openness that enables the joint communication of all members.
If one compares the networks in small groups according to the criteria of speed, accuracy, leader emergence, and member satisfaction, it can be concluded that in order to reach some conclusion, executives have to choose wisely a particular form of the communication network depending on the aim to achieve. If one needs accuracy, then the chain network should be applied as in this case. The small formal groups circle network is to be used if one needs great speed, accuracy, and high emergence of the leader it is present in the field offices of the USBC. Wheel network is fast and enables high member satisfaction between group members that can be noticed in the patrol groups and among different shifts (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 359).
The USBC is one of the critical agencies constituting the first line of defense protecting from illegal immigration, terrorist threats, and other potential dangers. Effective communication is the cornerstone of the Agencys efficacy. Therefore, the management approach of the Border Patrol Agencys supervisors, managers, and executives contribute to effective communication greatly implementing new programs of communication channels development.
The peculiarity of the borderline is its length and specifics. It can be desert, water, mountains, or any other natural or artificial landscapes and/ or facilities (airports, ports, etc.). Surveillance systems based on IT achievements are the most effective in combination with human force support. It means that the development of technologies for border control only facilitate the communication process for the USBC agents.
For example, the initiatives for Tucson Sector are as follows: a new solution for unified communications - WAVE was implemented by the Border Patrol for more effective coordination of threat responses and security efforts with all other agencies of all levels (Twisted Pair, 2013). The radio upgrade, which is expensive, is already being implemented and WAVE software only added broad interoperability. The combination of radio and WAVE made it possible to create a seamlessly integrated system that combines current hardware and the one that will be installed in the future. The solution empowered better coordination with local, state, tribal and other federal agencies to intercept terrorists, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants (Twisted Pair, 2013). As it can be noticed, the USBC management realizes the need in continuous improvements of the situation with communication within and outside the agency, and operates accordingly.