J.C. Raffety, who began his second term as a United States Marshal for the Northern District of West Virginia on June 10, recently reflected on his new job and the career that led him to serving under not one but two presidents.
Raffety was recommended by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to President Donald Trump. He said he was advised he was the intended nominee and had to go through a Federal Bureau of Investigation full field background investigation.
“I had a number of interviews in Washington, D.C. with the White House Counsel, the Department of Justice Counsel and the U.S. Marshal’s Assistant Director,” Raffety said. “The process took six to seven months. I was officially nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 22 and President Trump signed my commission paperwork May 24.”
Raffety has a long history in public service and law enforcement. He was an investigator for the West Virginia Secretary of State and began his law enforcement career in 1970 with the FBI, serving as a special agent and supervisory special agent in Washington D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia for 30 years.
Following his FBI retirement, he served as chief of the Buckhannon Police Department from 2000 to 2001. In 2002, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to be United States Marshal for the Northern District of West Virginia, and he served in this capacity until 2010.
Raffety also served locally as an elected Upshur County Commissioner from 2011 to 2016 and Interim Chief of Police for the City of Elkins Police Department in 2017.
He earned his A.A. from Prince George’s Community College, his B.S. from Illinois State University and an M.P.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He said he selected law enforcement at an early age as his career.
“I am very fortunate to be able to pursue this career,” Raffety said. “I enjoy the opportunity to continue serving the public. If I had to do it all over again, I certainly would.”
Raffety’s current commission as a U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of West Virginia is for four years. He said the primary investigative function for a marshal is the apprehension of fugitives.
“The marshal service averages 120,000 fugitive apprehensions per year across the U.S.,” he said. “We have the Mountain State Fugitive Task Force which is operational throughout the Northern District, and we apprehend hundreds of fugitives per year here in West Virginia – both state and federal fugitives.”
He said other duties for marshals include administration of the Federal Witness Protection Program.
“We also provide judicial security for the federal courts, including judges and the judiciary,” Raffety said. “In some cases, when threats are made against the judiciary or witnesses, we are responsible for the protection of those individuals. We also transport federal prisoners to and from arraignments and trials.”
The Northern District of West Virginia includes 32 counties. The U.S. Marshal Service maintains offices in Clarksburg, Martinsburg, Wheeling and Elkins. Raffety said he is mostly stationed in Clarksburg, but he travels to the other offices in the district as well.
“There are 94 Federal U.S. Marshals in total – one assigned to each Federal District in the U.S.,” he said. “In West Virginia, there are two districts – the northern and the southern.”
When asked if he feels most residents know what marshals’ jobs entail, he said he feels people are becoming more knowledgeable.
“More and more, the marshals have become more known,” he said. “There have been a few movies recently about marshals and I feel they were very well received.”
But he feels lots of people still think of the old west when they think about marshals.
“It is true that the Marshal Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency,” he said.
“It was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, which designated a marshal from each federal district. The first 13 marshals came from the original 13 colonies and were appointed by then President George Washington.”
Raffety said over the years, the marshals have evolved.
“In the days of the old west, the marshals were the ones responsible for maintaining law and order and for carrying out federal law enforcement.”
As Raffety enters his second go-around as the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of West Virginia, he says he considers himself truly blessed to be able to serve.
“I certainly appreciate President Trump for his confidence in nominating me for this position,” Raffety said. “I also must thank Senator Shelley Moore Capito who supported me during my first appointment under President Bush and for supporting me during the current appointment. I certainly thank her. The only thing Senator Capito requested was that I conduct myself in the Office of U.S. Marshal in a professional manor free from political influence.
“It is an honor and a privilege that I serve as the U.S. Marshal in the Northern District of West Virginia.”