United States Marshals Service Director John Clark has spent more than 20 years in the service. He previously served as the Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal and United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. A George W. Bush appointee, Clark was the first career Deputy U.S. Marshal appointed as director and was sworn in on March 17, 2006. When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Clark stayed on as director, where he’ll remain unless the Obama decides to nominate someone to fill the position.
Last month, Clark was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder at the U.S. Marshals Service Director’s Awards Ceremony, where they gave out awards to U.S. Marshals employees recognizing them for their work on issues like the Mexican border, upgrading the technology used to track fugitives, and preparing mobile command centers.
Main Justice sat down with Clark to discuss the U.S. Marshals Service’s plans for dealing with the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, drafting logistics for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City and dealt with an influx of activity on the Southwest border. An edited version of the interview appears below.
Main Justice: What type of challenges is the U.S. Marshals Service facing?
John Clark: There are lots of things that stretch and strain us these days, of course, you can just think about everything from Guantanamo Bay to the recent few days with the Times Square bomber. Folks like that end up in our care and custody. There’s the Southwest Border, the prison population. In fact, nationally we’ve had about a 4 percent increase, about 58,000 plus federal detainees in our care and custody. Enforcing the Adam Walsh Act, protecting the federal judiciary, witness security. You put it all in the basket and it’s a tremendous amount of work to handle.
So this year, thanks to a really decent president’s budget for this fiscal year, we have been able to overcome some of the challenges – at least on our funding and human resources base – or as they might be called boots on the ground. We’ll have more deputy marshals, we’re finishing up here our largest recruitment effort ever. This year we’ll have about 14 new basic deputy marshal classes passing through our academy [there are typically 45 or 46 deputy marshals in each graduating class].
The Marshals Service, because of our unique role in the judicial system, really has a touch on so many different things that go on. I like to describe it as we’re the neck of the federal judicial funnel. Everything that comes though in terms of prisoners, fugitive warrants, asset forfeiture, witness protection, protecting judges, all that kind of stuff some through that funnel, and the Marshals Service has some role to play with that.
Putting the deputy marshals in the field where the work is, and using our federal funding base to meet and help us offset a lot of these challenges – things that are going on around the world that impact us. We are overcoming some of those challenges this year thanks to great support from the Department of Justice and the president on the budget, so this year and through next year will be better for us.
MJ: On the issue of Guantanamo, I guess you’re sort of in a holding pattern right now until they decide what’s next. How detailed are the plans for transferring prisoners to the United States from Guantanamo?
Clark: I will say the plans are very detailed. We try to think of everything. I wouldn’t discuss those plans obviously openly, but we are organizationally ready and able to meet the wishes or the direction of the president and the Attorney General to provide for safe and secure location wherever the trials might be decided to be held.
You’re correct that right now the Attorney General and the president have decided to explore other locations and actions they might want to take about where they might want to try them eventually. But our role is to provide for the very best security possible wherever those trials may be held.
MJ: So there are a number of different options you’ve explored for where the trials would be held?
Clark: Sure. At the request of the Attorney General. If he directs certain places where he feels the trials might be held as a venue, we would go out and do a security survey, look at the venue itself and try to make preliminary assessments on what vulnerabilities might exist at that particular location, as well as describing what strengths their might be or what might lend itself to being a better venue for the trials.
That’s all done on what I would call our professional opinion. It’s not an exact science when you’re trying to figure out security circumstances. But you can rely on a lot of past experience and things that you can do nowadays to make a very good assessment of a particular location to see if if would be good for a trial.
MJ: How quickly could you set up a location if a certain spot was designated?
Clark: We could respond very quickly. In terms of assessing a spot that had not yet been looked at, that would probably take some time. But that would only take about 72 hour or a week to get the basic survey done. Obviously, the more time we have, the better it is.
It would be doubtful that the Attorney General or the president would ask us to do something like that on a moments notice – although in the Marshals Service we are known for being able to do something overnight and get it done. We have plenty of history and a track-record of being asked to do something on very short notice and getting it done. So that does happen.
We have the mechanism in place to very quickly take care of assessments and do those kind of things. But if it’s a decision, for example, of where to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees, the more time we have to assess the place the better.
MJ: With the KSM trial, what are the additional challenges that the U.S. Marshals see that make it different from a normal trial?
Clark: As individuals are watched on the world stage, everybody has an interest on how that plays out. But when you think about the individuals themselves and their connection to terrorism, their open statements that they’ve already made in terms of their hatred for Americans, the security apparatus has the be the very best it can be, as visible as it can be, as robust as it can be.
The challenge for us comes when you’re having a public trial in a building that is open to the public, that is often in places where there’s all the other considerations you need to make, in terms of the community, in terms of the building itself and the structure itself. There’s lots of factors that go into trying to assess all that. It’s just safe to say when you have high-visibility-type detainees such as those held at Guantanamo Bay that we need to really be on top of our game when handling security not only surrounding those individuals but all the individuals that they might come in contact with – from judges, the public, U.S. attorneys and others who are there.
MJ: I noticed recently in Philadelphia you assigned new deputy U.S. Marshals to that area. How do you decide which areas need additional Marshals?
Clark: We have a resource allocation model. One of the things we’ve really focused on in the past few years is a methods and means to be able to place deputy marshals and resources where they’re most needed. Of course there was congressional intent over the past few years to place some of our new positions on the Southwest border because of the increased workload down there. But offices like Philadelphia and a number of other places. In fact now a new graduating class will see recruits going to all points across the country. This last graduating class, I remember talking to deputy marshals going to small places like Vermont to large district offices like Houston, so we’re filling the gaps.
MJ: You’ve been heading the U.S. Marshals for awhile now, what trends have you noticed over that course of time?
Clark: Well I’m approaching my fifth year as director, and I’ve noticed in that time what I call an increased tempo – a pace – of national security issues, violent crime issues, on the Southwest border, of course taking primary responsibility for the Guantanamo detainee issues. When you think about that as a bunch of moving parts, there’s a lot of things that are going on there. One thing that’s really been noticeable to me is the pace is always on the increase. Just comparing where things are now to certainly five years ago. When you think to a pre-9/11 scenario, there was not so much of the process going on that we have today. It’s a very fast paced sort of process.
MJ: What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of?
Clark: We’ve been able to increase our efforts on violent crime. We’ve been able to increase the size and scope of our regional fugitive task force and our district fugitive task forces. I’ve also been here to sort of shepherd in the Adam Walsh Act law. When I first came in as director that was not yet signed into law, and there was a lot of debate about who would be responsible and if we were the right agency to tackle that.
I’m also pleased with the overall accomplishment of being able to get a more robust budget and resources for our agency which was desperately needed to see increases in staffing and financial ability to be able to handle the tasks that we’ve been given.
I guess the final thing, just in terms of things that have happened in recent years, is the increase in the judicial protection. Being able to get the home intrusion alarms in judges’ homes [and] opening up a threat management center here at our headquarters in order to be able to handle judicial threats. So those things have been able to make us a stronger, better agency.
MJ: To what do you attribute that rise in threats against judges and federal law enforcement officials?
Clark: There’s a few things I think that are going on there. For one there’s increased awareness with all the judges and the U.S. Attorneys and all those we’re responsible for protecting. And when you increase the awareness, that is to make people aware of the threat environment and their responsibility to report it, there’s usually, and in this case there was, an uptick in the number of incidents reported to us.
Every time there’s a conference with groups of attorneys meeting, we have someone from the Marshals going to those conferences to speak to them about their security and the importance of it. We’ve also strengthened our relationship with the judiciary. Whenever I travel, I meet with chief judges and district judges and U.S. attorneys to make sure that they have my number, they know how to get a hold of me, and that we are available to them on short notice. We’ve done a lot of education and awareness, so they see the need to report.
The cause of it, I might say though, in today’s world there are more individuals who are more prone to threatening judges. I think a lot of it has to do with the availability of information with the use of technology and the Internet. Individuals can find out more about particular cases and judges decisions. They can use Internet sources to find out more about the judge. So if someone is prone to want to threaten someone, there are a number of ways they can find material about a judge. We have to think about that as well. The number of individuals who are just prone to violence against judges or U.S. Attorneys has also increased.
MJ: But technology has also been a help to the Marshals as well. You have the mobile command units, increased ability to track fugitives. Could you talk a little bit about how things have changed in that respect, how technology has helped you track prisoners and fugitives?
Clark: Things like the mobile command units were all purchased with the purpose of helping us increase our response time, help us be fast on our feet. If there’s an incident anywhere in America, be it a natural disaster, like a Hurricane Katrina, or some type of a significant event – a major case that’s going on or a judicial protection detail, or a number of things where we might want to have a good mobile base of operations, command and control of communications – those vehicles help us do that. It’s designed to help us increase our response and be fluid and fast in getting there.
MJ: On the Southwest border, what are some particular challenges that the Marshals are facing?
Clark: We have a very high volume of detainees around there, may of whom are apprehended along the border for either immigration violations or some other type of crime connected to the Southwest border. In Houston, Texas, alone, there’s about 6,500 detainees just in our South Texas district. So prisoner population generated from that is a great challenge. Cross border issues, violence, as you probably know from the news on a regular basis, there’s always something it seems like back and forth across the border.
The Marshals Service through our fugitive task forces are very involved in the various police and sheriff’s departments along the border and our federal partners in trying to apprehend fugitives or wanted people who are going back and forth from the U.S. to Mexico. We have an office in Mexico City and we have a number of what we call Mexican Investigative Liaisons – MIL positions – the deputy marshals who spend most of their day working with their counterparts in Mexico to help accomplish everything from international extraditions to finding people, wanted subjects.
So it’s a combination of just the huge Department of Homeland Security effort down there – the violence, the cartels, the drug trafficking – that drives a lot of the prisoner population and makes for a very busy area.
MJ: Internationally, how do you maintain relationships with other countries in terms of extraditing prisoners to and from the U.S.?
Clark: The Marshals Service is responsible for finding international and foreign fugitives, fugitives who have fled from another country to the United States and those who have fled from the United States to another country, so we have very good relationships with our foreign counterparts. In fact in a couple weeks, we’re co-hosting with the Toronto Police Service an international fugitive conference in Toronto which will have about 22 countries attending. We work very regularly with INTERPOL, of course the State Department, the Department of Justice of course with their international affairs.
Annually, now we conduct, it’s approaching a 1,000 now, international extraditions a year from points all over the world. In addition to that with the fugitive apprehension program, we assist foreign governments with finding individuals who are wanted here. If it has a terrorism nexis or national security nexis, the FBI will handle it. But the vast majority of those international cases for individuals, the U.S. Marshals Service will handle it. So we work very closely with the embassies here in Washington.
MJ: What are some of the countries you see the most interaction with?
Clark: Well on the Northern border with Canada, we have a lot of activity in that part of the country, and actually we have a very similar process there with our district offices along the northern border who interact very closely with our Canadian counterparts. In the European corridor, a lot of the countries which produce the most activity are Great Britain, Germany. We do have some activity in the Far East as well. A lot of the sex offender cases seem to migrate to or have some connectivity to the Far East.
MJ: In working with local and state law enforcement, have you noticed any recent needs because of budget constraints in different states?
Clark: We pride ourselves in working very closely with our state and local counterparts, and they too are struggling with budget restrictions or cutbacks in personnel. Many of the state and local departments that we’ve dealt with have actually had to reduce the number of police officers on the street.
We are able to help in locating wanted people that a lot of the departments are looking for, but also through our task forces we’re able to help supplement their police operations with some of our funding and personnel. So we’re able to help them with things like getting radios, or vehicles, or maybe paying out some overtime, so it helps them continue their basic crime fighting strategy. So it has been a noticeable thing.
MJ: Any particular areas where there has been a lot of help from the Marshals?
Clark: The most recent example is in Florida, where we had a number of locations were departments were asking for some federal help. We were ale to work with some of the congressional leaders, the Department of Justice and others to get funding to establish a task force there. Over the last year and a half or so we’ve been building up task force operations there in Florida. A number of places that wouldn’t have been able to do much at all on the fugitive apprehension side now have a very good, robust fugitive squad that’s part of the larger state of Florida.
MJ: The Marshals recently sent out a unit to protect the trial of the man convicted of killing abortion doctor George Tiller. How many of those type of special protection cases do the Marshals handle?
Clark: There are occasionally situations like that where we’ll have to provide extra protection for individuals who are part of a case. In some ways, that was an unusual circumstance because of the nature of what happened there with that particular situation. But from time to time we do have to go out and provide protection for individuals. In this case – the abortion provider Dr. Tiller’s extended family – you don’t know if there’s a larger plot of intent by others to want to kill others who are part of that group, so you just don’t know.
We have quite regularly had protection details on judges, and it usually requires a lot of investigative work and effort to determine the nature of the threat and we have to put in place protective measures to provide security for that individual and his or her family.
MJ: One of the things that is currently being considered is having cameras in the courtroom. Do you think that could pose new challenges for the Marshals Service?
Clark: It could. We organizationally, because of security issues, would want to make sure that the cameras don’t show the faces of witnesses or judges or people that might otherwise be harmed in a case. In other words, there are some legal issues that are certainly beyond any involvement that we have. We essentially follow the law whatever that is. But we have some concerns from a security standpoint.
MJ: The public serves a large role in your effort to capture fugitives by bringing them to your attention, how are you getting your message out there?
Clark: One of the things that I’m pleased to say is that we have a close relationship with America’s Most Wanted. They’ve done about 1,000 shows now, and the Marshals Service has been instrumental in 60 percent of the individuals captured on that show – either directly arresting them or helping another agency arrest them. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we have a great connectivity to with the enforcement of the Adam Walsh Act. Basically any organization that has anything to do with our law enforcement functions, we have a strong partnership, a strong connectivity to them.
MJ: The Adam Walsh Act was mentioned on the 1,000th episode of America’s Most Wanted, I guess the president mentioned it as a priority for the next fiscal year?
Clark: John Walsh was interviewing the president, and the president had good research and he knew about the Marshals’ enforcement of the law and knew that we were not yet fully funded to do that, so he did pledge on national TV his support. We’re hoping as that unfolds down the line in that new fiscal year, we’ll see an appropriate number of resources being dedicated to fix that.
That’s another sort of huge undertaking for us, because there are by very conservative estimates 150,000 unregistered, or we call them non-compliant sex offenders out there, meaning there are individuals who their whereabouts are unknown in the local where they should be registered, so the local authorities don’t know where they are. If you turn on the TV or open the newspaper any given day, you’ll see evidence oftentimes of non-compliant sex offenders picking up young children or other teenagers and the results are often tragic, so we of course take that very seriously.
MJ: Could you talk a little about your work providing witness security and how that plays into successful prosecutions?
Clark: That’s an often hidden part of our work, but we are providing witness protection, and that’s been ongoing for a couple dozen years now. We have about 8,000 individuals for which we provide protective measures for, and with family members, the total is about 18,000.
So it’s a large protective operation that provides a great deal of support for the Department of Justice and others because it provides support for and helps to solidify the prosecutions. When you have witnesses who feel capable of testifying without any fear of retaliation or threats or any death threats they’re more willing to testify and more willing to participate in the case.
No one has ever been killed who have followed the rules. We have people who have left the program voluntarily on their own or haven’t been able to follow our instructions, but nobody under our direct responsibility has been killed so we’re very pleased with that record and we hope it stands.
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President Barack Obama nominated six law enforcement officials to serve as U.S. Marshals, bringing the total number of nominees to 39, out of 93 districts.
The nominees include:
– Arthur Baylor, the chief of police of the Montgomery, Ala., Police Department, for the Middle District of Alabama;
– Michael R. Bladel, a law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s office and the former chief of police in Davenport, Iowa, for the Southern District of Iowa;
– Kevin Carr, an inspector in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, for the Eastern District of Wisconsin;
– Kevin C. Harrison, an Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration, for the Middle District of Louisiana;
– Darryl K. McPherson, a judicial security inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago, for the Northern District of Illinois;
– Henry L. Whitehorn Sr., the chief of police in Shreveport, La., for the Western District of Louisiana.
The Senate has confirmed 13 nominees thus far, and three more nominees — Noel C. March for the District of Maine, George White for the Southern District of Mississippi and Brian T. Underwood for the District of Idaho — will have a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The full biographies from the White House release are below.
Arthur Baylor: Nominee for United States Marshal, Middle District of Alabama
Arthur Baylor is the Chief of Police of the Montgomery Police Department in Alabama. From 1998-2004, Mr. Baylor also worked for the Unified Judicial System as a Judicial Security Coordinator where he was the Deputy Marshal. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 1977 and a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 1990 from Troy State University.
Michael R. Bladel: Nominee for United States Marshal, Southern District of Iowa
Michael Bladel is the Law Enforcement Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Iowa. He served as the Chief of Police in Davenport, Iowa, from 2000-2007, and was a Police Officer there from 1971-1993. From 1993-2000, Mr. Bladel was the Sheriff of Scott County, Iowa. He served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971 and earned a Bronze Star. Mr. Bladel received a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from St. Ambrose University in 1991. He earned an Associate’s degree from the Muscatine Community College in 1974.
Kevin Carr: Nominee for United States Marshal, Eastern District of Wisconsin
Kevin Carr currently works for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Carr joined the Sheriff’s office in 1980, rising through the ranks from Deputy Sheriff to his current position as Inspector. He received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Management from Concordia University, Wisconsin in 1997.
Kevin C. Harrison: Nominee for United States Marshal, Middle District of Louisiana
Kevin Harrison is currently working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge. Prior to his employment with the DEA, Mr. Harrison worked as a trooper for the Louisiana State Police, from 1979-1986. In 1984, he was the Chief Deputy at Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana. Mr. Harrison received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Nicholls State University in 1976.
Darryl K. McPherson: Nominee for United States Marshal, Northern District of Illinois
Darryl McPherson is currently employed by the Department of Justice working for the U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago as Judicial Security Inspector. He has been with the Marshals Service since 1997. Mr. McPherson started as Deputy U.S. Marshal out of the Mobile, Alabama office until 1999 when he was promoted to his current position in Chicago. Mr. McPherson received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Spring Hill College in 1997.
Henry L. Whitehorn, Sr.: Nominee for United States Marshal, Western District of Louisiana
Henry Whitehorn, Sr., is the Chief of Police in Shreveport, Louisiana, a position he has held since 2007. He joined the Louisiana State Police in 1978, rising through the ranks to serve as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Services and Louisiana State Police Superintendent. Mr. Whitehorn was a Patrolman with the St. Louis, Missouri, Police Department from 1977 to 1978. He also served as a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force from 1973 to 1977. In addition to professional training, Mr. Whitehorn earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State University in 1989, and a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University – Shreveport in 1986.
As the Chief Inspector of the U.S. Marshals’ Office of Emergency Management Tactical Operations Division, Michael Pyo is in charge of three major programs — Mobile Command Centers, the Communications Center and the Explosive Detection Canine Program.
Pyo who has been with the service for 17 years was honored at the Director’s Honorary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday for his “tireless efforts and outstanding contributions” to the U.S. Marshals.
Last year, Pyo served as the project manager for the acquisition of two new mobile command centers — rolling offices equipped with satellite communications equipment that deploy anywhere — and in 2008, he oversaw the relocation of the communications center to a new facility in Springfield, Va.
Pyo oversees three mobile command centers in Oklahoma City, Okla., Pineville, La., and Springfield, Va.
The technology used in the mobile command centers needs to be updated consistently because it provides the backbone for communications after a natural disaster or other incident. The mobile unit also supports the radio communication abilities of local law enforcement officials.
“The infrastructure typically goes down, your cell service is not going to be up and running, so you have to rely on the satellite,” Pyo said.
The mobile command units also are deployed to other situations that require U.S. Marshal protection — most recently to the trial of Scott Roeder who was convicted of murdering abortion provider George Tiller.
“It’s not just a matter of parking a big truck in the bay area and leaving it, because you always want to make sure it’s always up and running,” said Pyo.
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Joel Kirch, the chief inspector of the U.S. Marshals’ Technical Operations Group, describes the work of his unit as the modern day version of “trackers” — marshals in the old west who tracked fugitives on horseback. The U.S. Marshals Service honored him during an awards ceremony Tuesday for pulling those trackers into the 21st century.
Kirch was named Operational Employee of the Year for helping the unit incorporate 3G cell phone technology into their work.
The Technical Operations Group — TOG, as it’s commonly known — has about 100 deputy U.S. Marshals who specialize in technology. “They’re a small, elite, cadre of deputies that are utilized by just about every investigator in the country,” Kirch said.
“You can imagine what it’s like in this day and age trying to stay ahead of what’s going on,” said Kirch. “If everybody has a 3G phone, then they’re going to make a 4G phone. So that’s our constant concern, trying to keep up with technology and keep our guys trained.”
The U.S. Marshals Service said Kirch’s leadership and vision for the unit has pushed it to the forefront of not only the Marshals Service, but all federal law enforcement.
Kirch said technology helps law enforcement officials keep tabs on fugitives.
“It’s pretty hard not to try and connect back with society when you’ve escaped because everybody has a family,” Kirch said. “Unless you go somewhere and just spend cash and never use a telephone and never use a computer, we’re probably going to catch up with you at some time.”
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At a U.S. Marshals Service awards ceremony Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder praised the diligence and courage of Stanley Cooper, the court security officer who died protecting the federal courthouse in Las Vegas in January.
“We’ll never know how many people he saved that winter morning, but we’ll never forget the courage he showed that day – and throughout his career. Stanley spent more than four decades in law enforcement – both as a distinguished police officer in Tulsa and Las Vegas for 30 years, and then, since 1994, helping to protect the federal courts,” Holder said in prepared remarks. “He found great purpose in his work, just as he found tremendous joy in his family, his horses, a good doughnut and a difficult crossword puzzle.”
Holder said he was grateful that Cooper’s family was on hand for the ceremony. “Marty, Daniella, Rick, Brendan and Eva, you are, and always will be, part of our Justice Department family. Know that Stanley’s quiet, steadfast example of service – as well as his sacrifice – will continue to guide and inspire our work for years to come,” he said.
Numerous other U.S. Marshals employees were honored at the 30th Annual Director’s Honorary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday.
U.S. Marshals Services Director John F. Clark told Main Justice that it was important to honor the work of U.S. Marshals “who go above and beyond the call of duty.”
Clark also said the U.S. Marshals Service is evolving to keep pace with trends, including combating the rise of threats against judges and U.S. attorneys over the past several years. The marshals have worked to increase awareness and training and technology has allowed them to better track threats which come in both verbal and written form.
Among those honored at the ceremony — which was held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., near the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters — were the members of U.S. Marshals Service Terrorist Detainee Task Force, which was created when President Barack Obama decided to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.
That task force has representation from nearly every division, staff office and several districts of the U.S. Marshals Service and worked with the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the President’s Task Force on Guantanamo Bay. The task force also conducted a confidential study for Attorney General Holder of the security related to prosecution of the Sept. 11 attackers.
Three U.S. Marshals districts also were recognized during the ceremony: the Eastern District of Washington won the small district award; the District of Kansas won the medium district award; and the Eastern District of New York won the large district award.
In addition, two assistant U.S. Attorneys received awards for their work on a fugitive task force in Massachusetts. Assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Wortmann Jr. and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn A. MacKinlay were named the law enforcement officers of the year for their work in capturing fugitives in the Northeastern U.S.
A full list of the awards distributed at the ceremony is available here.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s prepared remarks:
Thank you, Director Clark, for those kind words and for, once again, inviting me to participate in this awards ceremony. It’s a pleasure to join you and to salute the excellent work of the deputies being honored today.
For more than two centuries, the U.S. Marshals have been “First for Justice.” Every day, across the country, you serve as the first line of defense in ensuring the safety of the judiciary and protecting the judicial process; your work strengthens our nation’s security as well as the security of our communities. Whether you’re apprehending fugitives, enforcing the Adam Walsh Act, protecting witnesses, or transporting prisoners, you’re supporting the Justice Department’s #1 mission: to protect the safety of the American people. I know how difficult this work can be. I also understand how important it is. During a career spent as a Superior Court judge, U.S. Attorney, Deputy Attorney General, and now as the Attorney General, I’ve worked alongside the fine men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service. Be assured that your contributions are felt across the entire Justice Department – and far beyond.
Today, it’s my privilege to commend your work. And I’m especially grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge – and personally thank – the heroic men and women we’ve gathered to honor. This year’s award recipients have stood out, and their service embodies the Justice Department’s – and the country’s – highest ideals. I’m delighted to congratulate them, and I’m pleased that so many of their colleagues, friends, and family members have joined us for this special occasion.
This has been quite a year for the U.S. Marshals. Your work has enhanced one of our nation’s oldest, and most impressive, traditions of service. You’ve assessed potential security threats and planned and provided security for terrorist detainee trials. You’ve ensured the safety of health care providers and enforced the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. You’ve seized and managed the assets of Bernard Madoff, Allen Stanford and others engaged in financial fraud. And then you’ve sold off those properties to benefit the victims of their crimes. And, while this year has been distinguished by extraordinary achievements, it’s also been marked by great tragedy.
Today, as we celebrate your commitment to the cause of justice, we also remember our colleague, Court Security Officer Stanley Cooper – a hero who lived for, and ultimately died for, this cause. Stanley was killed this past January, as he joined other CSOs, deputies, and detention enforcement officers in defending the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas against a gunman intent on taking lives. We’ll never know how many people he saved that winter morning, but we’ll never forget the courage he showed that day – and throughout his career. Stanley spent more than four decades in law enforcement – both as a distinguished police officer in Tulsa and Las Vegas for 30 years, and then, since 1994, helping to protect the federal courts. He found great purpose in his work, just as he found tremendous joy in his family, his horses, a good doughnut, and a difficult crossword puzzle.
At 72, Stanley was often asked why he chose to put his life on the line every day rather than retire. He’d reply, simply, that he was a “lawman.” As we honor this commitment, and his many contributions, I’m so grateful that Stanley’s family is here to share in this moment. Marty, Daniella, Rick, Brendan and Eva, you are, and always will be, part of our Justice Department family. Know that Stanley’s quiet, steadfast example of service – as well as his sacrifice – will continue to guide and inspire our work for years to come.
Today, I believe this work has never been more critical. Our Department is facing new demands, and our nation is confronting unprecedented challenges. But, as I look around this room and consider all that you’ve accomplished over the last year, I can’t help but feel hopeful about what we can achieve in the days ahead. Going forward, I will be counting on the talents and commitment of our Marshals Service. The American people will be counting on you, too.
Thank you all for your great work. And to each of our awardees, congratulations on a job well done and very much appreciated.
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U.S. Marshals for the Eastern District of Louisiana and South Carolina were sworn in Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony at the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters in northern Virginia.
Deputy Director Christopher Dudley administered the oath to Genny May, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Kevin Washington, U.S. Marshal for of South Carolina.
They are the 11th and 12th U.S. Marshals to be sworn in under President Barack Obama. To date, the president has made 33 nominations for new U.S. Marshals of the total of 94 districts nationwide. Of those, 13 have won Senate confirmation.
Photos and biographies of the two, listing their previous career highlights, from the U.S. Marshal’s Web site are below.
Genny May, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Nominated by President Obama on July 31, 2009
Lieutenant Colonel Genny May, Deputy Superintendent of Support, is a thirty-one year veteran of the Louisiana State Police, having served with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office prior to her employment with State Police. As Lieutenant Colonel of Support, she is responsible for the Training Academy, Joint Emergency Services Training Center, Crime Lab, Support Services and Technical Support. Prior to this appointment, Lieutenant Colonel May served as the Deputy Superintendent, Bureau of Investigations, responsible for the operation of the Detective, Narcotics, Insurance Fraud, Investigative Support, and Gaming Divisions.
Lieutenant Colonel May has extensive career experience in training, investigations and patrol. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, 168th Session and holds a Masters of Public Administration from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Southern University, Baton Rouge. In addition, in February 2009 she retired as a Master Chief from the United States Navy Reserve after twenty-three years of service.
Lieutenant Colonel May is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from both her law enforcement and military service.
Kelvin C. Washington to be U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina
Nominated by President Obama on December 22, 2009
Kelvin Washington, 40, is Sheriff of Williamsburg County in South Carolina. He has been with the Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office since 1993, rising through the ranks to his current position. Since 2008, he has been an Adjunct Professor at Charleston Southern University in the Criminal Justice Division. Mr. Washington has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in the Criminal Justice Division since 2007. He began his law enforcement career with the City of Florence Police Department as a Patrolman and Investigator in 1990 and served there for three years. Mr. Washington has a Master of Science degree in criminal justice from Troy University (2008) and a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from American Intercontinental University (2006).
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President Barack Obama earlier this month signaled his intention to increase manpower at U.S. Marshals offices, but his fiscal 2011 budget request would do little to achieve that goal.
The president was interviewed in early March by John Walsh, the host of the America’s Most Wanted television show. Walsh, whose son was kidnapped and murdered by a convicted murderer, noted that a 2006 law named after his son requires sex offenders to update their registration on a regular basis and that more law enforcement resources are needed.
Obama responded, “The problem, as you well know, is you’ve got 150,000 sex offenders out there that these U.S. marshals have to chase down. And so it’s very important for us to continue to build up the U.S. marshals’ capacity,” said Obama. “That’s something that we want to do in our federal budget.”
The president said the Justice Department has increased the number of U.S. Marshals working on the issue from 300 to 400.
But a substantial change in manpower for the U.S. Marshals Service may not come until fiscal 2012. The fiscal 2011 budget submission includes only 14 new positions to prevent and respond to terrorists attacks.
The Marshals Service did note, however, that it received a substantial increase in positions in fiscal 2010 — almost 15 percent.
According to the fiscal 2011 budget proposal, one of the challenges facing the Marshals Service is the “alarming rate” of growth in the federal prison population. The increased prisoner population has created enormous administrative workload within the 94 U.S. Marshals districts around the country.
The budget does not include funding for security measures for the Khalid Sheikh Mohammad trial. The U.S. Marshals Service is in a holding pattern as it awaits a decision on where the trial will be held, said a spokesman.
Meanwhile, the administration has also been slow to fill the 94 Senate-confirmed U.S. Marshals posts. To date, the president has made only 33 nominations. Of those, 13 have won Senate confirmation. Ten of those have been sworn in, with plans for two more swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.