USMS Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities
For much of its history, the U.S. Marshal Service has had one of the broadest authorities to act of any law enforcement agency, and to a large degree, the agency still retains much of those powers. A Deputy U.S. Marshal may still enforce any local, state or federal law that applies to a situation. Marshals may pursue and apprehend fugitives and criminal offenders across state lines and deputize civilians to assist them in the performance of their duties.
As one of the most prestigious law enforcement agencies in the federal government, the U.S. Marshal Service still retains a strong presence in every federal judicial district in the country. Each of the 94 court districts has a presidentially appointed U.S. marshal as well as a team of Deputy U.S. Marshals. The protection of court buildings, federal judges and court officials fall within the purview of the U.S. Marshal Service. There are currently 218 sub-offices throughout the U.S. from which the U.S. Marshal Service conducts operations.
In addition to performing duties domestically, the U.S. Marshal Service also has a strong presence internationally. The USMS operates three foreign offices in Mexico City, Mexico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Kingston, Jamaica. The USMS primarily conduct fugitive investigations and incarcerations from these offices. The agency is also tasked with overseeing deportations and extraditions in addition to international fugitive apprehensions.
As the enforcement arm of the federal court system, the highest investigative priority of the U.S. Marshal Service is the pursuit and capture of wanted fugitives. The Fugitive Operations division of the U.S. Marshal Service is composed of seven regional fugitive task forces which are based in
- New York
- Great Lakes
- District of Columbia
- Pacific Southwest
- Gulf Coast
- Florida and the Caribbean
In addition to the regional task forces, there are also almost 60 local task forces.
These fugitive task forces pursue a variety of offenders including international fugitives, the “15 Most Wanted”, and sex offenders. The most wanted may include murderers, organized crime offenders, drug kingpins and sex offenders who have a history of violence. The U.S. Marshal Service is authorized under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act to locate and apprehend any unregistered sex offenders and investigate any noncompliance by sex offenders.
The U.S. Marshal Service is also an important component of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is a unit authorized by the U.S. Attorney General to interdict drug trafficking and money laundering. The U.S. marshals provide assistance in nationwide investigations and arrest operations.
The USMS is also an important protection service that investigates and safeguards key members of the federal judiciary. In association with intelligence analysts, physical security specialists and other USMS personnel, Deputy U.S. Marshals protect judges, court officials, witnesses and the public. The USMS maintains a constant vigil, investigating any threats and potential attacks upon judges. They also serve as bodyguards for the U.S. Supreme Court when they travel beyond the District of Columbia.
In accordance with its duties protecting those involved in the judicial process, the USMS oversees the Witness Security Program which offers 24 hour protection to all witnesses in anticipation of court testimony. This program also provides housing, job training, relocation and employment assistance to witnesses under threat.
A final, but often unrecognized, priority of the U.S. Marshal Service is the clandestine operations unit. The Special Operations Group (SOG) is an elite tactical unit that performs law enforcement, counter-terrorism, national emergency and civil disorder operations. These require expertise in sniper skills, high risk entry, explosive breaching, evasive driving and waterborne missions.