One of the revelations to come out of the Marksville shooting revolved around the little-known role played by local marshals and constables, not to be confused with U.S. Marshals.
Normally known as the guys who carry out evictions and serve warrants, local marshals — as many learned in the case of the two marshals accused of shooting and killing a boy in Marksville — are also gun-toting officers with some of the same powers as other law enforcement agents.
Now, the nation’s umbrella organization for local marshals and constables is seeking to distance itself from the Marksville shooting and remind people that they recommend regular use-of-force training for their officers, just like traditional police departments do.
In an unusual press release Thursday, the National Constables and Marshals Association delivered an oblique response to the Marksville shooting without mentioning the incident by name.
“The bottom line, life is precious and should be protected at all cost, that’s why regular training is important. We encourage all to take this serious and act accordingly,” wrote Baton Rouge City Constable Reginald Brown, who’s also the NCMA chair, and NCMA president Phil Hazlett.
Hazlett, who later acknowledged the statement was in response to the Marksville case, said the Marksville Ward 2 Marshals are not part of the national group, which provides enhanced training for its members. Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Derrick Stafford, the officers being held on murder charges in the Marksville shooting, were freelancing with the Ward 2 Marshals at the time of the incident.
Brown said obtaining the basic Peace Officers Standards and Training Council certification required of all fulltime officers in Louisiana provides only the bare minimum of instruction. His officers receive use of force training two to three times a year, he said. But many smaller marshals and constables offices cannot afford to send their agents to more training, he noted.
Hazlett, who also serves as a constable in Surprise, Arizona, said he was “shocked” to hear two local deputy marshals in Marksville were accused of shooting and killing six-year-old Jeremy Mardis while on the job.
“Protecting the lives of yourself and those around you — the use of deadly force has to be restricted to those areas. This is so unfortunate,” he said.
“Somebody sure dropped the ball a little bit,” he added.
Advocate staff writer Maya Lau contributed to this article.