San Diego's new Border Patrol chief outlines vision for sector

Aaron Heitke said he has "big shoes to fill"
Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 21:33:00-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The new patrol chief of the Border Patrol sector in San Diego acknowledges he has “big shoes to fill.”

Aaron Heitke is taking over for the recently departed Rodney Scott, who was promoted to the agency’s top job in Washington.

Heitke, a midwest native who previously served as patrol chief in the sector that covers North Dakota, said his priorities include boosting public partnerships and improving transparency. But the 22-year veteran of the agency said he plans to make changes gradually.

“One of my big focuses each time I come to a new place is not to jump in and make big changes when I first arrive, because I don’t know exactly how everything works,” Heitke told reporters Monday. “I don’t want to fix one thing and cause two more problems.”

Heitke joined the San Diego sector in November as the second in command. He said he’s still identifying the greatest need within the sector, which spans from the U.S.-Mexico border to Oregon, but he said like most of the country, filling positions is a challenge.

The San Diego sector is “a few hundred” agents short of where it’s authorized to be, he said.

One thing he is certain about: new sections of the President’s border wall are helping.

“It’s working very well,” he said. “What it’s doing is slowing the traffic down, and moving the traffic to areas where we can make apprehensions.”

The administration has finished about 26 miles of border wall in the San Diego sector, he said. Ten miles are currently under construction and another three miles are in the prep stage.