Bolden new marshal in Abbeville

Jeremiah Bolden, 32, of Abbeville is the newest City Marshal for Abbeville. Bolden, who was elected without opposition to the position in July, is the first black person to hold the position in the Parish’s history.

For Bolden, his race comes second to his faith in God and his dedication to a 12-year-long career in law enforcement.

Growing up in Abbeville with his parents, Pastors Donnie and Anna Bolden of Lighthouse for Jesus Church, and siblings Donnie Jr., a gospel singer, and sister Darriet Bolden, who teaches at Lighthouse Christian Academy, said his upbringing has given him a solid foundation rooted in Christianity.

“That’s our life,” Bolden said about he and his family being actively involved in his faith and attending Church three times per week. “That’s automatic to me.”

Bolden is married to his wife, Tonia, and has three kids, aged 12, 10 and 9, who all attend Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Bolden said his religious background helps him deal with people from all walks of life in his job.

“If they know me, they know that I’m understanding God. I always put God first. I live morally, and just abide by the rules of the Bible.” He added his faith has led him to give advice to those in trouble, “all the time; (probably) too much.

“I guess people look at me (for advice), but I always talk to (young) people,” Bolden said. He added that his godson Joseph wants to be just like him when he grows up.

The position of City Marshal became available when Jimmie Touchet announced plans for his retirement in February 2008. Bolden said it was Touchet’s recommendation for him to run for the office that convinced him to do it.

“I was excited, but at the same time I was worried,” Bolden said about the election process. “The cutoff time was at 5 o’clock. I was really excited when I called and they said ‘nobody came in. You’re the man.’”

Bolden said he started his career as a jailer for misdemeanor crimes, working 12-hour shifts, but after the jail closed Touchet approached him to work at City Court issuing subpoenas, where he has been since 1999. After he left the jail, Bolden said he attended the Acadiana Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) in New Iberia and was trained as a police officer to work as a City Marshal.

“I worked in the jail first for three years,” he recalled. “After the jail closed down, the Marshal (Touchet) asked me to come work with him serving papers, so I started doing that. He told us (he and his partner) about six months prior to me wanting to do this (become City Marshal) he was retiring, so I just took a shot at it, went for it and went unopposed,” Bolden said.

The title of City Marshal has evolved throughout the years, from constable to bailiff, and have been glamorized in Hollywood movies and on TV as being informal, and having a close relationship with the presiding Judge. The late Roy J. “Rusty” Burrell is likely the most famous TV bailiff, who emerged in the early 1950s because a judge liked his sense of humor and appeared on shows such as “Divorce Court” (1957-69), “People’s Court” (1981-93), and “Judge Wapner’s Animal Court” (1998-2000). Burrell was an actual bailiff, and was the bailiff for the infamous Manson trial in the ‘60’s.

Content with life as it is - without the glitz and glam, shine and sparkle of popular courtroom dramas - Bolden said his job is much harder than it is portrayed on TV.

The City Marshal holds a six-year term and is responsible for serving civil and criminal subpoenas, mandates the order of the Court, provides security for judges and clerks of City Court, collects fines and provides inmate transport from the jail to court as needed.

A pivotal member of the courtroom, one would wonder if the City Marshal ever has concerns about his own safety.

“Who, me?” Bolden replied with a chuckle. “I’m never worried. I’m always cautious though.” He said he and his partner, Charles “Chuck” Menard work in tandem to present court papers to town hot spots. Menard has been a police officer for 25 years and worked under the previous City Marshal, Jimmie Touchet. Bolden said he has worked closely with Menard for the past 12 years, and it was Menard who trained him to become the City Marshal. Bolden said Menard probably did not want to take the City Marshal position after Touchet retired because he prefers to stay out of the public eye.

“He’s smart; he knows the job,” Bolden commented. “We’ve both been doing for the same amount of years together.”

Menard was willing to comment that Bolden has “matured into a fine Marshal.”

Bolden said he lives day-to-day and is ready for whatever comes next in his career. The position of City Marshal will not be voted on again until 2013. “I’m real simple. Whatever happens - happens.”

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