LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB)- Officer Steve Saraf joined Customs and Border Protection 13 years ago because he wanted to make a difference.
“With our job we like to help people. That’s what we do,” he told News 4.
Whether it’s protecting our borders or protecting our people, Saraf teaches new officers how to approach dangerous situations the right way. He leads new officers through virtual training; simulations of active shooters, hostage situations or domestic disturbances.
One of the most important tools a new officer learns is the thought process behind each decision, which they often have just seconds to make.
“He portrays the characteristics that someone has outside of this and he brings them to the job. Characteristics like persistence, flexibility, empathy,” said Chief Customs and Border Protection Officer, Aaron Bowker.
Those same qualities led Saraf to Port Au Prince, Haiti with the Lockport Alliance Church in early September.
“There were 17 of us that went and Steve was really excited. Steve was one of the first people that said I really would like to go and do something like this,” Assistant Pastor of the Lockport Alliance Church, Alex Banks said.
Saraf spent a week digging, building, and helping a community devastated by natural disasters and poverty to move forward. He helped build a school for more than 400 students.
“We put in plumbing, toilets, painted, built pews, built desks,” Saraf explained.
He said the decision to go to Haiti wasn’t something he thought long about.
“It was almost a no-brainer. It was a very simple decision to want to go over there and try to help and learn about what differences there are from their culture to ours, and to learn about different people.”
He knows he can’t fix an entire country, nor can he make sure no officer ever makes a mistake.
Officer Sarah said Haiti has helped him view each officer as an opportunity, just like each student, whose future is now just a little bit brighter.