Years ago in the same area, Bourne said, he helped catch 180 people in one day. Halfway into his recent shift, his crime-stopping efforts consisted of stopping a young man from dropping a soda can in the park. Still, bike patrol, the partners agreed, is a lot better than being stuck in a parked car waiting for action that never comes.
"Sitting in the same spot for eight hours looking at the same thing… it drains you." Salazar said.
Byerly was several hours into his midnight shift at the San Luis Port of Entry in March 2010 when his eyes started getting heavy. Watching the fence at the port was once considered crucial: People would jump over and disappear into nearby truck yards the moment an agent turned his head. But that night there were no immigrants waiting to dash across, no lookouts scouting the area, and no smugglers heaving rocks at his "war wagon" vehicle, its windows fortified with steel grillwork.
"I figured it would be exciting," said Byerly, a former construction worker from Pennsylvania who joined the agency in 2008. "I didn't think it would be as dead as it was."
Byerly finished the energy drinks and put the comedy into his DVD player. (Agents are prohibited from using personal electronic devices while on duty.) "I figured something funny would keep me awake, but I still fell asleep," said Byerly, who was fired because of the incident. Two other agents have also been disciplined for falling asleep on the job, said Derek Hernandez, president of the Yuma sector border patrol union.