Sitting in his office on the top floor of the William Augustus Bootle Federal Building in downtown Macon, Middle Georgia’s new U.S. marshal says he’s come back home.
Appointed by President Obama, Willie L. Richardson Jr. has returned to the Middle District of Georgia, where he was first assigned after graduating from recruit training 21 years ago.
Richardson, 50, said he well remembers getting the call that he’d been chosen for the post.
He was at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, near Brunswick, preparing to teach a class of new deputy marshals.
“It was a real exhilaration knowing I’d been chosen by the president,” he said.
After being in the job for a little more than a month, Richardson said he doesn’t expect to be making drastic changes.
He said he does want to strengthen bonds among the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies by making sure sheriffs and police chiefs know of the help that marshals can offer in helping track down fugitives.
“I want to remind them that we’re here.”
Marshals serve as the law-enforcement arm of the Department of Justice, providing protection for the federal court system and federal witnesses. Marshals also apprehend fugitives wanted by the government and local law enforcement agencies.
Richardson, a Valdosta native, plans to continue living in Valdosta, commuting to work at the district’s offices in Albany, Athens, Columbus, Macon and Valdosta. The Middle District of Georgia spans from Georgia’s southwestern corner east through Valdosta, north through Albany and Macon and east through Athens to the South Carolina border.
By working in multiple offices, Richardson said he’ll be able to have a better feel for what’s going on throughout the district than if he worked only in the Macon office, where the district is headquartered.
Patty Herb, operations supervisor for the Macon office, said she was excited to hear that Richardson would be taking over.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she and Richardson worked long hours serving warrants and other aspects of operations. They also shared a few adventures.
After an Alabama judge was killed, Herb and Richardson provided security for a federal judge. As a part of their security detail, they actually went fishing with the judge, she recalled.
Did they catch anything?
“Always, always,” she said.
Terry Rodgers, the district’s chief deputy marshal, described Richardson as “very easygoing and on an even keel.”
Rodgers preceded Richardson as U.S. marshal. She was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, but she stepped down later to become chief deputy. The chief deputy, also based in Macon, is not an appointed position.
Before becoming a deputy marshal, Richardson served in the Air Force from 1981 to 1985 and was assigned to a technical training group that provided instruction to other branches of the military.
After his discharge, he went to school so he could join his family’s mortuary business. But after working at his family’s funeral home for about a year, his interest gravitated toward law enforcement.
He worked as a road deputy and later as a detective in the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office until he became a deputy marshal in 1989.
From 1991 to 2003 he served as the deputy marshal in charge of the district’s Valdosta office. In March 2003 he became an instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, where he trained new deputy marshals.
In his time away from the office, Richardson said he like to hunt, fish and read.
He is married and has two adult daughters.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.