Montana's new U.S. marshal, Darrell Bell, was sworn in to the job in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 7 but he felt the need to have something a little closer to home.
On Friday afternoon, he held a second administration of the oath of office at the James F. Battin Federal Courthouse. It wasn't a requirement but it was needed, Bell said.
"I'm Montana's marshal and felt it was necessary to be sworn in in Montana," Bell said. "My friends and family should all be here for this."
Bell's brother, former Yellowstone County Sheriff Jay Bell, kicked off the ceremony by leading the 60 or so people in the courtroom in the Pledge of Allegiance.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby administered the oath.
Before the oath, Bell's friends and co-workers took turns speaking about him, including Chief Deputy Rod Ostermiller and Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.
Ostermiller said some of Montana's past marshals weren't necessarily qualified for the job and that he was refreshed with Bell's appointment.
"You are the model of what a U.S. marshal's resume should look like," he said to Bell.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who recommended Bell for the position, described Bell as a family man, prankster, a good cook and a great law enforcement officer.
"I cannot think of anyone who's served as much as Darrell," Baucus said.
Bell has 36 years of law enforcement experience. He spent 31 years with the Billings Police Department, leaving in 2005 after taking the position of interim chief. He then worked as an investigator for the Montana Department of Justice's Gambling Investigation Bureau, a job he held until shortly before becoming U.S. marshal.
"Who would've thought that when I took my first oath as a Billings police officer that I'd be standing here," Bell said.
Bell and other local, state and federal law enforcement officials in January asked Baucus to help shield law enforcement from federal spending cuts, especially in coordinating drug-fighting efforts.
Baucus said Friday that he continues to oppose law enforcement funding cuts and has let key house and senate members that reducing funding isn't a good idea.
"It's a matter of support and votes," he said. "It's a collective decision. Once you start cutting law enfo4rcement, the community goes south."
Bell said federal funding helps local law enforcement buy new equipment and operational gear and that many agencies are already facing budget shortfalls.
"Hopefully, what happens is that the law enforcement professionals will communicate and move forward and foster some of those cooperative relationships," Bell said.
After he took the oath, Bell said he wants to continue a trend of the U.S. Marshals Service cooperating and collaborating with local and state officers.
"I'm overwhelmed by the opportunity to serve this great state," he said.