Operational Employee of the Year: Joel Kirch
By Ryan J. Reilly | April 13, 2022 6:09 pm

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.

Joel Kirch (photo by Ryan J. Reilly).

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.”

See a full list of award recipients from Tuesday’s U.S. Marshals Service Awards Ceremony here. Read the full story here.


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