What do you call someone who rescues animals, repairs fence, responds to accidents, saves lives, serves Arizonans and protects our infrastructure? At CAP, we call them protective services agents and they play a critical role in reliable water deliveries.
Supervisor Ray Russell said the primary purpose for his six-person team of agents is to protect people, property and infrastructure. They do this through visible patrols, both on the ground and in the air. It may sound like an easy task, but it is definitely not! It’s not just because of the large area – 336 miles of canal plus the surrounding land – but the challenging terrain, remote locations and unpredictable situations.
Russell said they divide the canal into six segments, each patrolled by a different agent.
“We are the eyes and ears of the system, looking for things that are out of the ordinary,” said Russell.
One good example is when Russell was patrolling and noticed the water in a portion of the canal seemed oddly high. At that time, he was relatively new to CAP but what he was seeing seemed unusual, so he called the Control Center to report the canal condition. That observation and subsequent call alerted them to an issue with subsidence which later was addressed by increasing the liner height. A fix directly attributed to Russell’s work.
To be an effective agent, it takes a trained and seasoned expert and CAP agents fit the bill, with 229 years’ combined law enforcement experience – an average of more than 38 years per agent. They are all Arizona Post Certified Peace Officers and bring unique expertise, including work with K9, explosives, traffic and tactical operations.
Yet, much of the work agents do is less glamorous. They look for encroachments, help remove encampments and respond to vehicle accidents involving CAP employees. They carry supplies to repair fences, render first aid and rescue animals from the canal. They have a blanket to provide warmth and water to provide hydration for anyone who may be in need.
Recently, Agent Mac McCullough, came upon an individual who had been stranded with his vehicle overnight in triple digit temperatures with no water. McCullough’s intervention was critical to a positive outcome for him.
Sometimes, the need is four-legged.
When a CAP field employee saw a deer in the canal, he made a call to Agents Troy Lewis and Mike Walters. They found two mule deer in the canal; one climbed to safety on his own; however, the other was struggling so Lewis and Walters went to work. They grabbed a rope and safely got it around the deer, pulling him out of the water and releasing him outside the fence.
It’s not always a water rescue. McCullough received a call from Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team (HARTT ). They were working with a Mesa resident who was feeding a stray dog that was near CAP property. McCullough didn’t hesitate, heading to the location where he helped safely rescue this wayward German Shepherd, now affectionately named Cybil.
“CAP’s agents may not always be visible, but we are there, working hard to ensure our people and our system are safe,” said Russell.