State law outlines city marshals job responsibilities

State law outlines city marshals job responsibilities

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Investigators said four Ward 2 City Marshal's deputies were involved in the Marksville deadly pursuit last Tuesday that left Jeremy Mardis, 6, dead and his father, Chris Few, severely wounded.

Two of the deputy marshals are accused of firing into Chris Few's vehicle, Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. They are both locked up on a $1 million bond each and charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

But the questions remain: why were they chasing behind Chris Few's truck to start with and were they in the right?

For the past 15 years, Major Reginald Brown has been the Baton Rouge constable, which is the same as the city marshal.

Brown also serves as chairman for the National Constables and Marshals Association. He said there is often confusion about their authority.

"People think a marshal or city constable, they're not really police officers. They're not this. They're not that. That's not true. Anybody who wears a badge and carries a gun, they have awesome authority, and with that awesome authority, discipline is required. Training is required," said Major Brown.

Major Brown said their primary job is to serve any and all court documents such as warrants, seizures, evictions and more, but that's not all they're limited to.

"Judge can call me in Baton Rouge City Court and say, 'I want you to go out and arrest this person right now, he didn't show up in my court.' That's a court order," said Major Brown.

He said his marshals also transport prisoners and are allowed to write tickets and summons, patrol in the city, execute outstanding warrants and do just about anything other police officers do.

"The marshal has the same authority as the sheriff," said Joey Alcede.

Alcede is the Lake Charles city marshal and the secretary/treasurer with the Louisiana City Marshal Association. He said state law, RS 13:1881 outlines the general powers and duties of marshals.

A. The marshal is the executive officer of the court; he shall execute the orders and mandates of the court and in the execution thereof, and in making arrests and preserving the peace, he has the same powers and authority of a sheriff.

That means the Marksville City Marshal Floyd Voinche is responsible for his deputy marshals. A call into Voinche was not returned.

Major Brown said marshals and deputy marshals are protected by the state law, but they still have to use their own discretion and each town and city determines what the marshals can do.

In Marksville, Mayor John Lemoine said he never gave the "okay" for marshals to patrol the city. It's why he sent a letter to the Louisiana Attorney General's office concerned about their role.

"We had some police officers that were within the city limits that were not working for us at the time, and we just wanted to make sure that was not a liability to the city," said Lemoine.

Despite the outlined job responsibilities by state law, the former city marshal in Marksville said when he was in office, it was only him and one other person and all they did was deliver court orders to people. He said they never patrolled in the city.

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