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What is the Marshals Service?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 March 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) claims to be the oldest law enforcement agency in the United States. The men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service perform a variety of duties to safeguard the nation, including working in conjunction with other federal law enforcement agencies to apprehend fugitives, transport federal prisoners and seize criminally acquired property. They also operate the witness protection program, whose official title is the Witness Security Program. Among the U.S. Marshals Service's main duties is the protection of members of the judicial system, including federal judges and jurors.

Throughout the United States, there are only 94 marshals. The organization also has 3,324 deputy marshals. One marshal works with one federal court district, and the deputy marshals assist with the multitude of programs and tasks set before the U.S. Marshals Service. There is also a special operations unit, which was conceived and put into action in 1971 to respond to emergencies anywhere within the United States.

The U.S. Marshals Service provides investigative services for drug-, sex- and fugitive-related crimes. They also perform international intelligence and law enforcement with the aid of the Department of Justice and other agencies. Surveillance is one area where the U.S. Marshals Service excels, as the organization makes use of the latest technology available to them to gather information to help with ongoing investigations.

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Federal marshals are equipped with firearms, specifically the Glock 40 caliber, and each marshal may carry a backup handgun of their choice. If appropriate, marshals are also equipped with other weapons, primarily Armalite model 15 semi-automatic guns (AR-15s) and 12-gauge shotguns. Marshals are trained to use these weapons and they must achieve an accuracy rating of more than 70 percent on the administered exam.

To enter the Marshals Service, a person must be a United States citizen between the ages of 21 and 36. Educational requirements are a bachelor's degree or above, or three or more years of qualifying law enforcement experience or some combination of education and experience. A valid driver's license is required, and applicants must be able to pass a background check and complete a 17.5-week training program. There are also medical and physical conditions that an aspiring marshal must meet.

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