Press-Republican

Local News

January 1, 2008

Plattsburgh native now CBP chief of staff

PLATTSBURGH -- Growing up in the North Country has helped Thad Bingel tremendously with his new job just two blocks from the White House.

The Plattsburgh native was recently appointed chief of staff for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where he is the senior adviser to Commissioner W. Ralph Basham in Washington, D.C.

Bingel, who spent his childhood in Keeseville and graduated from Seton Catholic Central School, said he understands the scope of challenges smaller border communities may encounter and realizes the importance of cross-border trade and travel.

"But," he said, "I also appreciate the threats we face (as a nation).

"I understand how the border affects life every day, and I try to bring that to the table. I hope it helps bring perspective."

Bingel, whose father, Mike, is the temporary chief of police for the Village of Rouses Point, said a lot of people in his department have also lived near a U.S. border.

He said Customs and Border Protection is trying to take a risk-based approach in "keeping the bad people and bad things out of the nation" in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Since 2001, there has been a 300-percent increase in personnel along the northern border, he said.

"We're getting a lot more resources. There is a lot of attention on everything we're doing."

Obtaining passports and documents approved through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will help this process, he said, though he understands it may be a difficult transition for some residents here.

"It's a good balance. Seeing the stuff I see, I think it's the right thing."

He suggested people who frequently cross the border get their passports or other approved documentation.

"It's going to be worth it in the time and energy down the line."

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