Local News

Who are the U.S Marshals?

SEBRING - In 1962, when James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy called in 500 deputy U.S. marshals to control the crowd. In 2000, deputy marshals protected refugee boy Elián González before his return to Cuba. In 1893, it was deputy marshals who arrested the Dalton Gang. They also suppressed the Pullman Strike in 1894, enforced Prohibition during the 1920s, protected American athletes at recent Olympic Games, guarded abortion clinics, enforced laws among U.S. personnel in Antarctica, and recovered runaways under the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. On the other hand, on Oct. 23, 1863, it was also David L. Phillips, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Illinois, who wrote to President Lincoln about kidnapped blacks in the North being sold as slaves in the South.
After George Washington became president in 1789, one of his first acts was to swear in the first 13 federal marshals, one for each of the original 13 states, making the U.S. Marshals Service the nation's oldest law enforcement agency. Today, the 94 U.S. marshals and their 3,850 deputies are the enforcement arm of the federal courts. The nation's 94 U.S. marshals are appointed by each president, and oftentimes replaced by incoming presidents. Those U.S. marshals direct the activities of 94 districts - one for each federal judicial district. Florida has three: the Northern District, which centers around Tallahassee, the Middle District, which expands diagonally from Jacksonville across Orlando to Marco Island, and the Southern District, comprised by Highlands, Broward, Dade, Indian River, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie. Marshals protect the federal courthouses in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Key West and West Palm Beach, as well as federal judges, U.S. attorneys, judicial employees, jurors, the visiting public and prisoners. ?There are more than 400 federal locations in those 94 federal court districts. Experienced former law enforcement officers work courthouse security as special deputy U.S. marshals. Deputies apprehend federal fugitives, manage and sell seized assets acquired by criminals through illegal activities, house and transport federal prisoners, and operate the Witness Security Program. The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal government's primary agency for fugitive investigations.? U.S. Marshal task forces combine the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate and arrest the most dangerous fugitives. They apprehend and arrest an average of 337 fugitives every day. The Marshals Service has four foreign field offices in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, and work with law enforcement agencies along the Mexico and Canada borders and with the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. gpinnell@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5828