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Northern Border Patrol agents take on new role

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KARLSTAD, Minn. (AP) - To tighten security at the northern border, the U.S. Border Patrol is getting out of border stations and into local communities.

The strategy is part of a greater emphasis on cooperation with local law enforcement in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Some agents now spend half of their time assisting sheriffs and police. More now live and work in towns that can be miles from the border.

Austin Skero is chief of the Border Patrol's Grand Forks, N.D., office, which covers 861 miles of border from Montana to Michigan with about 200 agents. That's up from 30 before 9/11. He says getting agents out of border stations and into local communities has been critical for building relationships with local law enforcement and residents.

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