May 5 2009 12:00 AM

Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley seeks a federal law enforcement job.


Like famed lawman Wyatt Earp, Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley may be headed west to become a U.S. marshal.

Well-placed sources confirmed to City Pulse Alley applied for the job of U.S. marshal of the Western District of Michigan, a presidential appointment. Alley did not respond to calls for comment, but he issued a statement through police spokesman Lt. Noel Garcia late Tuesday confirming that he had applied for the job.

“In late March of this year I applied for the position of United States Marshal for the Western District of Michigan through United States Senator Carl Levin’s office. Before applying, I spoke with Mayor Bernero and got his support for me pursuing the opportunity. The United States Marshal is a presidential appointment. In law enforcement, opportunities for this kind of professional advancement don’t come along often.”

Shortly after, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero issued his own statement commending Alley on his service and wishing him well in the endeavor.

How the city would handle the departure of Alley, if he were appointed, is unknown. Garcia declined to speak on the matter.

Alley joined Lansing Police in 1986 and worked his way up the chain of command from sergeant to lieutenant to captain until he became chief in June 2000. Garcia declined to elaborate further on Alley’s career, but he pointed out several high points including creating the H.O.P.E. Scholarship Program, and manning the city’s drive to install surveillance cameras.

The president appoints U.S. marshals after a recommendation is made from a states senior senator — in this case, Levin. Levin would consult with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and they would narrow down the list by sending applicants before a vetting committee. Afterward, whoever makes it from the vetting process to the presidents list of recommended appointees will then go before the U.S. Senate for a confirmation hearing.

Each marshal serves one federal judicial district, of which there are 94 in the United States. Michigan has two: the Western District and the Eastern District. The position Alley is applying for has been essentially vacant for over a year, after James Duggan, the former sheriff of Kent County, retired.

Since then, Chief Deputy Marshal Bruce Nordin have filled the position.

Nordin was familiar with Alleys name but said the potential hires do not come through him. Nordin said that he was not seeking the presidential appointment.

Marshals are responsible for protecting witnesses in federal court, apprehending federal fugitives and enforcing federal court orders.

When a decision on Alley’s application will be made is unknown. With as many as 300 federal judge spots to be filled — and many of the 94 marshal slots expected to be open as the Obama administration cleans house— the process could take a very long time. One source estimates that the mandatory FBI background check each appointee has to endure could take four months. It also depends on how high the marshal appointments are on the presidents to-do list.