Created: 10/01/2013 6:39 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The budget meltdown in Washington has turned one of America’s most important training centers into a ghost town here in New Mexico.
Tuesday, students at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia literally packed up and left.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 caught up with a few of the trainees at the airport.
FLETC students training to work in law enforcement for dozens of federal agencies all packed their bags and headed home Tuesday morning.
They shipped out on last minute flights to destinations all over America.
And once the government shutdown is resolved, they’ll have to turn around and fly right back, but the students we talked to didn’t seem to mind.
The students wouldn't talk on camera because they were afraid of getting in trouble. They did tell KOB they were excited to see their families.
The shutdown comes with a price tag. These last minute airline tickets cost a whole lot of money, meaning a whole lot of taxpayer dollars.
"From what I understand everything out there is going to be shut down, the only people they're going to keep out there working is going to be the security people," said Dale Rutherford, a contractor for FLETC.
And a ripple effect far beyond FLETC.
"Everybody that has any kind of a contract business with the government out there is now either not going to get their income because the students have left, so we're not getting anything from them,” said Rutherford.
Rutherford fits the border patrol students for their body armor.
“Because the government is shutting down, then we're not going to have that income coming in anymore," said Rutherford.
The mission at FLETC and the number of students grew dramatically after the terror attacks on 9/11.
There are 91 different federal agencies that rely on FLETC in Artesia to train their officers. These include the agents for FBI, the drug enforcement administration, and federal air marshals.