OROVILLE – Richard “Dick” Graham, Agent in Charge at the Oroville Station of the U.S. Border Patrol for the past 15 years is hanging up his spurs and riding off into the sunset.
Graham’s last day with the USBP was Tuesday, July 31, 2012 and coincidentally that was his daughter Emily’s first day patrolling solo for the agency on the U.S.-Mexican border, according to Graham.
Graham, who came to Oroville as Agent in Charge after teaching at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy, said when he first got here there were only seven agents, including himself.
“I can’t tell you the exact number only that there are upwards of 50 now,” said Graham.
He started his career with the Border Patrol in September of 1984 in El Centro, Calif., not far from where he spent his summers as a kid. It was during those summers he got to know the Border patrol and said that’s he met some of the toughest guys he’s ever known. After serving in the military Graham said that the Border Patrol was tailor made for him. Following the Border Patrol Academy, Graham worked there as an instructor teaching law, firearms and driver’s training. He helped to open the new academy in South Carolina.
While serving his last day at Oroville a call came in from Chief Robert Harris thanking him for his service and sharing some memories of the times they rode out together on horseback along the northern border.
“For him to call me and to tell me how much of an impact I’ve had on his life when he is someone I really look up to is very special… he’s a great leader,” said an emotional Graham.
During his time in Oroville Graham says he and his agents have really been able to hinder traffic along this section of the northern border. He also credits the ties that the Oroville Station has made to the community.
“The community liaison has been why we have been so successful. When I got here the community relations were not very good. I’ve worked on improving them since day one,” he said.
Those relations include several successful Citizen’s Academies and the U.S. Border Patrol Explorer Scouts.
In addition to working with the community, he said working so well with the other law enforcement agencies is another big reason for their success. Graham says the local station has strong ties with the local police department, sheriff’s office, Port of Entry, US Forest Service and RCMP.
“We work so well together no wonder we’re successful,” he said. “And we go to the local police calls because it’s the right thing to do. We also take our boat to the boat races. If we make one or two friends that helps us too.”
Graham said about 170 people attended his retirement party at the home of John and Deloris Shaw. The Shaws have been helpful with the agencies horse program and are good friends of Graham and his wife Becki.
He grew up in the Spokane area and he and his wife have bought 30 acres by Medical Lake, between Reardan and Fairchild. He says he will be driving a wheat truck in the near future.
“I wanted to get that off my bucket list,” he said.