The job description of a Beaufort County sheriff's deputy continues to evolve.
Inside an empty federal courtroom Thursday in Beaufort, nine deputies were sworn in as special deputy U.S. marshals. The commission, which lasts two years, gives the deputiesauthority to arrest anyone wanted on federal charges by the U.S. Marshals Service.
"We are the fugitive catchers of the federal system," said Johnny Mack Brown, U.S. marshal for the District of South Carolina. "But without the work of these deputies and our other special deputy marshals across the state and across the country, we would not be very effective at catching criminals. We just couldn't do it."
There are 54 special deputy marshals commissioned in South Carolina, including officers from the Richland County Sheriff's Office, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, and the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, Brown said.
The Beaufort County deputies were commissioned Thursday as part of Operation Intercept, a program created in 1986 in South Carolina by the U.S. Marshals Service to unite federal, state and local law enforcement to help catch fugitives.
Sworn in were Capt. Bob Bromage, Chief Deputy Michael Hatfield Lt. Joey Woodward, head of the Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force, Sgt. DeJuan Holmes, Cpl. Brent Burns, Master Sgt. Jeff Purdy, Master Sgt. Chris Sankowski, Staff Sgt. Andres Florencio and Master Sgt. Michael Riley. Sheriff P.J. Tanner is expected to be sworn in today during a similar ceremony in Columbia.
The deputies' new credentials add to a growing list of responsibilities bestowed upon some at the department, including the authority to enforce state alcohol laws and to act as federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Hatfield said his and his fellow deputies' new duties will not interfere with their regular assignments and will help keep the community safe.
"It gives us an advantage to help facilitate intelligence-sharing and sharing of resources that will help expedite the arrest and removal of fugitives from our community," Hatfield said.