New Border Patrol chief played key role in Gatekeeper

February 16, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

Agents and employees in the U.S. Border Patrol's El Centro sector will be meeting their newly assigned sector chief next week.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service announced this week the selection of Kenneth Stitt as the new chief patrol agent of the El Centro Border Patrol sector, which includes the El Centro, Calexico, Indio and Riverside area. He is one of 23 chief patrol agents nationwide.

Stitt, 46, has been serving as assistant chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector. He is expected to start work in the El Centro sector at the beginning of next week.

The sector has been without an official chief since July 1, when Thomas Wacker retired after 30 years of service. Wacker was started in the sector chief spot in 1995.


"Ken Stitt brings more than 20 years of distinguished service to the job," said Mary Ann Wysrch, acting commissioner of the INS.

"His expertise and leadership have been instrumental in implementing our enforcement strategy in the San Diego area and will be a tremendous asset as he takes over the helm of the El Centro sector," Wysrch said.

Stitt played a key role in helping plan and carry out Operation Gatekeeper, the border enforcement strategy credited with reducing Border Patrol apprehensions in the San Diego area to their lowest levels in 25 years, according to an INS press release.

The El Centro sector, responsible for patrolling more than 75 miles of international border, is the second-busiest sector in the nation.

There are more than 500 agents assigned to the sector, double the number here four years ago. There are now more than 9,300 agents in the Border Patrol.

"I'm looking forward to working with the personnel in the El Centro sector," Stitt stated in the press release.

"One of my top priorities will be reaching out to the community to promote even better cooperation and communication between the residents of the Imperial Valley and the Border Patrol," Stitt stated.

Stitt began his career with the Border Patrol in 1977 as an agent in what was then known as the Chula Vista sector in San Diego.

In 1996 Stitt was named an assistant chief for the San Diego sector. Born on the East Coast, Stitt moved with his family to San Diego when he was a teenager. He and his wife, Denise, have a grown daughter who lives in the San Diego area.

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