CBP employees develop mobile doc scanner

Tuesday - 8/21/2012, 9:58am EDT

Thomas Roland, Jr., program manager for Office of Field Operations, CBP

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Thomas Roland, Jr. (left) and Nael Samha of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection

If you've been been to the U.S. border or a major international airport recently, then you may have seen Customs and Border Protection officers with a new handheld device. It allows agents to check law enforcement databases in real time.

Since March 2010, the device has helped to catch 450 drug traffickers, weapons smugglers and potential terror suspects.

That device was developed by Thomas Roland, Jr. and Nael Samha, two program managers from the CBP. They've been nominated for a Service to America Medal.


Federal News Radio asked Mr. Roland to tell us more about himself.

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?

I'm still learning.

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?

‘Tommy, are you still having fun?' Last year I was actually thinking about retiring. One of my mentors, who would probably prefer his anonymity, said that if I was still having fun doing what I was doing, I was not ready to go. He was absolutely right.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

I have been very fortunate to have had so many role models and mentors in my career and I have learned so much from all of them. I know it sounds like a cliché but my biggest role model has been my Dad. Pop was an Iwo Jima Marine, then a Border Patrol Agent, then an Immigration Inspector. He ended his career as the Port Director of a little airport in New York call JFK. Pop has seen it all and done it all and I still go to him for counsel.

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome (personally or professionally) and how did you overcome it?

Learning how to NOT say exactly what was on my mind but also learning WHEN and HOW to say it, if it had to be said. That is still a work in progress.

What's the last thing you read and what's next on your reading list?

I just finished It Worked for Me by Colin Powell and now I am reading The Dream Team by Jack McCallum.

What's your favorite bureaucratic phrase?

It is probably not a great bureaucratic phrase but I love saying, "Yes," and I love hearing, "Yes."

Meet the rest of the 2012 Service to America Medal finalists .