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Wearing the badge worn by US legends; Louise grew up in Tiger Bay, but now she's a US marshal.

Byline: Robin Turner

IT is one of the most famous of all the law enforcement jobs in America - with just 94 people holding the post at any time.

And the latest person to be personally nominated by US President Barack Obama to become a US Marshal has a good reason to stand out even in such elite company.

Louise Kelton will become the fifth woman serving as a marshal, only the second black woman to join the service in its 200-year history - and probably the first from South Wales.

The 56-year-old Cardiff Bay-born police officer will be following in the footsteps of such legendary marshals as Wyatt Earp - whose heroics at the legendary gunfight of the O.K. Corral have been honoured in several movies.

As well as its real-life heroes, the US Marshals service has been immortalised in films like 1969's True Grit starring John Wayne as the one-eyed marshal Rooster Cogburn and in The Fugitive and US Marshals, both starring Tommy Lee Jones.

Among other things, US Marshals and deputy marshals are responsible for tracking down dangerous criminals, protecting witnesses and court officials and serving warrants.

Louise is the new US Marshal for the Middle District of Tennessee - one of the 94 US federal judicial districts all of which have their own politically appointed US Marshal.

It is a long way from Cardiff's old Tiger Bay area where she grew up and lived until the age of 23.

Louise was born on a US air force base near Cardiff, the daughter of a Welsh mother and a US serviceman.

She lived in Cardiff until the late 1970s and worked as a hospital physiotherapist in Cardiff.

But at the age of 24 she travelled to Louisiana to see the States. She only intended to stay a year, but never left.

She explained: "I meant to stay for a year, but it didn''t work out that way."

She went on to work for more than 30 years with the Metro Nashville police department, going from patrol officer to commander of the city's North Precinct.

She recalled: "That was hard work, 16-hour days. I still get up at 3am most mornings."

Of her new role, she said: "We go after the worst of the worst. I am immensely proud and honoured to be appointed marshal.

"It's the culmination of a career trying to make life better and safer and more secure for other people.

"I love people. That's why I do this."

She said growing up in cosmopolitan Tiger Bay gave her the "confidence, independence and broad-mindedness" to be successful in her police career.

IN its early years, the US Marshals service was the most prominent embodiment of the growing power of the US federal government.

The service was created in 1789 by America's first congress and became synonymous with the civilian effort to spread law and justice.

In the second half of the 19th century, the service became synonymous with the "Wild West" as it made its mark in countless lawless frontier towns like Deadwood, South Dakota, and Tombstone in Arizona.

US deputy marshals became famous as they pursued notorious outlaws such as Billy the Kid and the Dalton Gang.

Probably the best known US marshals are Wyatt Earp and his brothers Morgan and Virgil who gunned down outlaw cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank in 1881 at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

Louise Kelton showed the selflessness expected of US marshals five years ago when she was given a PS5,000 prize "for dedication to making the Nashville community better".

She gave the money to the city's 100 Club which benefits the families of emergency services workers injured in the line of duty.


Louise takes an oath with US Marshals service director Stacia Hylton

Louise Kelton has been made a US Marshal in Tennessee
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 29, 2013
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