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Breaking Blue: U.S. Marshals Service

Deputy Marshal Marin and K-9 Folly demonstrate her detection skills by sniffing out a training bomb in less than two minutes.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) invited alumni from its Citizens Academy program for another riveting class about multi-agency task forces and partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the primary law enforcement arm of the Department of Justice.  Movies like The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals or the television show Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force have agents performing fugitive operations or prisoner transports.  While real-life U.S. Marshals do perform those duties, they also cover asset forfeiture, tactical operations, witness security programs, and protect judges and the courtrooms.  The question one might ask is, “What does the USMS have to do with DCSO?”

The USMS provides security and protection for the 94 federal court districts and 12 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The state of Colorado constitutes one federal court district.  Within Colorado, the USMS has four district offices: Denver (headquarters), Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Durango.  Additionally, DCSO is a member of the USMS Task Force Partner Agency under the Colorado Violent Offender Task Force.  By way of example, if DCSO is working a case where a fugitive escapes Douglas County, DCSO can request assistance from the USMS to locate and apprehend the fugitive, even if the fugitive has crossed borders outside of the United States and into international territory.  Utilizing the USMS service not only adds additional staff and resources on cases, but the operational costs are not passed to the partnering agency.

The USMS is a historic agency and a unique part of the justice court system.  The USMS geographic structure mirrors the United States district courts.  Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, marshals are presidential appointees.  President George Washington signed the commission for the original 13 marshals, who performed the first U.S. Census, built strong connections in the local political structures, and generally served in the military or law enforcement.

As of 2020, there are 3,850 U.S. marshals nationwide who protect 2,700 federal judges, more than 30,000 court officials and jurors and the visiting public in the courtrooms.

Deputy Marshal Gus Marin and his K-9 partner, Folly, demonstrated how the dog is different than the DCSO K-9 units.  Folly is a black Labrador certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as a detection canine.  Folly completed 10 weeks of training and an additional six-month training with Marin.  Labradors are chosen for their distinctive olfactory skills because they can break down a scent to the molecule.  Folly sniffed out a training bomb that was planted in the classroom in less than two minutes.

To learn more about the U.S. Marshals, visit or


Alumna Shalah Costello tries on a standard-issue U.S. Marshals tactical vest.


Article and photo by ViVi Somphon; photo courtesy of Michael Beattie




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