By Stephanie Mills
Just another day on the job for Deputy U.S. Marshal, Brent Sheets and his partner, Jay Easley, who are partners in Midland/Odessa within the U.S. Marshals Western Texas District.
On the day of our story, they were on the hunt for many wanted criminals but landed on an armed and dangerous fugitive who was said to have been spotted in Midland.
After a four hour standoff, the man was nowhere to be found.
But, Sheets said, this is all typical in a day's work and they just move on to the next guy as they continue to search and investigate.
This is just one example of what the U.S. Marshals do.
From hour to hour, Sheets doesn't know how his day is going to unfold.
"The fugitive apprehension, we have several data bases, some are easier than others. We're looking for a couple people. Surveillance, running info through databases, last known residents on a case by case basis," Sheets said. "We go after some of the most violent offenders. We've arrested people for sexual assault to a child, aggravated with a weapon, to murder and homicide, a wide variety of different things we've look for."
The primary function of the U.S. Marshals is the protection of the courts, the judicial branch of government. Part of that is going to court, bringing prisoners to court and making sure that the Midland Courthouse is secure.
But the U.S. Marshal's mean a lot more to our society.
"In my opinion, we are very important, we take people off the street that are endangering citizens of the U.S.," Sheets said. "It's pretty satisfying knowing that you are working to clean things up and keep people safe."
The number of people they are putting behind bars has increased.
"We went from 400 a year. Now we are at 1,200 a year," Jason Schwaninger, with the Midland U.S. Marshals Service, said.
"Law enforcement, in general, our normal day is everybody else's worst day," Sheets said. "We show up to your house, that is your worst but that's our normal."
But all that hard work pays off.
"There was a guy who back in 2008, he had murdered his boss with a shotgun and changed his identity. It took him 18 years to catch him but once it got to U.S. Marshals, it took two weeks." Schwaninger said.
U.S. Marshals are given certain guidelines on the crimes they have to focus on such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault and more. A list of 20 different kinds of crimes they look for.
However, Sheets says, "a U.S. Marshal can enforce all federal laws. We can cover everything."
There isn't always two marshals working together all the time but they never work alone.
Marshals partner with local law enforcement in order to get the guys they are looking for and in exchange also help out with local warrants as well.
With all their resources, they can close a case in a matter of just a few hours.
"We work close to the Sheriff's Office and get new warrants every day. We worked on some sitting in a judge's desk that had been signed but not dropped off. However, a couple hours is typical."
Steve Clark, who is a supervisor with the Marshal's Office, will go out on cases as often as he can. Steve says it's a dicey work.
"Some guys are dangerous and some do everything they can to keep from going to jail. But if we do our job, they go to jail," Clark said.
There are about 4,000 U.S. Marshals for the entire U.S. and each one is appointed by the President.
All of the team in Midland/Odessa report to the U.S. Marshal, who sits in San Antonio. But they are responsible for the Midland/Pecos division that covers six counties.
But each marshal says they can depend on each other to get the job done and they like what they do.
"If we take care of it, we know our buddies are going to take care of it," Schwaninger said.
"We are similar to an undercover agent, up until we have to arrest and then you'll know who we are and our purpose," Sheets said.
The U.S. Marshals protect our society and bring felons to justice. They won't stop until they find the criminals.
"We're always out there. You may not see us because there is not that many of us but we are always out there doing our job," Clark said.