PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The United States Marshal Service traces its history back to the time of George Washington, but according to Wing Chau, it seems no president has ever appointed a Chinese American to serve as marshal — until now.
“It looks like it took 230 years to finally get one,” Chau said Monday.
President Trump first nominated Chau as U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island last year, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April. On Monday, Chau was publicly sworn in in front of a sea of law enforcement officials, politicians and other dignitaries inside U.S. District Court in Providence.
“It’s an amazing day,” Chau said after the ceremonies. “I’m just so humbled.”
The Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency — Rhode Island’s marshals distract was established in 1790 — and acts as the enforcement arm of the federal court system. Marshals serve federal arrest warrants, track down and capture fugitives, and oversee the federal witness protection program.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung – a longtime friend of Chau’s – helped get his name to U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and advocated for him with the Trump administration.
“I put my two cents forward and supported Wing from day one,” Fung said. “It’s so cool that he broke through the bamboo ceiling that is there.”
Chau said he hopes his appointment will be a beacon for minority kids, and he wants to act as role model for them to aim high.
“You can come from nothing and then one day get a presidential appointment,” Chau said. “It is the American dream.”
Chau grew up in Rhode Island, graduating from Central High School in Providence. He attended CCRI and RIC, where Fung was one of his classmates. He started as a Capitol Police officer in 1989, then moved to the federal government in 1994, first with U.S. Border Patrol and then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to Whitehouse’s office.
At the ceremony, several people spoke of Chau’s high-risk investigations as a special agent for the ATF, working cases on gangs and terrorists, including the Boston Marathon bombing probe.
“He was undercover all the time,” said R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha, who knew Chau when he was U.S. Attorney.
“His cover has been blown now,” Fung joked.
Chau was sworn in by U.S. District Chief Judge William Smith in the courtroom of Judge Jack McConnell, who was there along with 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson.
Joining Reed and Whitehouse at the event were Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin.
Chau replaces Jamie Hainsworth, who had served as U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island since 2012.