Oswego graduate Bill O’Toole
’01 could think of nothing more exciting
than “chasing the fugitive,” when he took
a written exam, just weeks after graduation, to enroll
in the U.S. Marshal Service.
’01 when he
returned to campus as part of the Alumni-in-Residence
Once the exam was complete, he underwent a panel interview
with two U.S. Marshal senior deputies who asked him
scenario questions. He then endured a medical exam,
a physical fitness test, a background investigation
and time at the U.S. Marshal Training Academy just to
be considered. Now, after waiting three and a half years
to be accepted into the program O’Toole is proud
to be one of 3,000 Deputy U.S. Marshals in the country.
In September 2004 O’Toole started his career with
the U.S. Marshal Service in Washington, DC. O’Toole
issues warrants for fugitives who have fled prosecution,
assists with prisoner transportation and helps run the
witness security program as well as judicial security
by providing protection to judges whose families have
been threatened. And finally, an incredibly large portion
of the Deputy U.S. Marshal position is courtroom security,
“It’s the most important role,” he
said. “The No. 1 goal of the U.S. judicial service
is courtroom security.”
As Deputy U.S. Marshal, O’Toole can be found in
Washington’s District Court or the District of
Columbia Superior Court, where he transports between
one and a dozen prisoners a day from their holding cell
to the courtroom. On average, each building has up to
250 prisoners located inside each day.
“Dealing with prisoners is not easy to do,”
O’Toole said in an interview when he was on campus
as part of the Alumni-in-Residence program, sponsored
by the Oswego Alumni Association. “Everyone has
got to develop their own way.”
All of O’Toole’s prisoners are transported
in leg irons, handcuffs and waist chains as many of
them are in jail for things such as murder, drug possession,
sexual assault, rape and possession of firearms. In
some cases, prisoners in court may still be under the
influence of an illegal substance.
“Many of them have extensive criminal histories,”
O’Toole said, adding that he has seen several
returning faces since joining the service just two and
a half years ago.
Although the biggest part of O’Toole’s job
entails sitting in the courtroom for eight hours a day,
he has seen his share of fights and unruly prisoners.
“You have those moments when things get out of
control,” he said.
In one instance, O’Toole had a knife clipped to
his back pocket while escorting a prisoner from the
courtroom to a holding cell. The prisoner lunged at
O’Toole and the knife, causing a brief scuffle.
The man was unsuccessful at reaching the weapon and
O’Toole quickly learned a lesson about keeping
his weapons guarded.
“There are plenty of times when you think, ‘This
could get pretty bad, pretty quick,’” O’Toole
So what made O’Toole pursue this career with the
U.S. Marshal Service?
“Honestly, I got caught up in the movie,”
he said. “Chasing the fugitive. But it’s
not as glamorous as what you see in the movies. If you
see one of those shows like ‘Crime Scene Investigation’
(CSI), where they hammer through these court cases,
no they don’t. It’s such a slow process.
Some cases take years. It’s such a long process
and that’s something that I didn’t expect.”
However, O’Toole is quick to admit that there
is a “light at the end of the tunnel,” one
that offers a more movie-style approach to the profession.
Until the day he hits the streets to “chase the
fugitive,” he is pleased to continue in the field
and to provide courtroom security for the judicial system
as a Deputy U.S. Marshal.
— Emily King ’05
To December 2006 E-Newsletter