Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I despise so-called bounty hunters.

This story out of Bristol, VA pretty much spells it out.

Three bona-fide losers grab an innocent woman up, thinking that she's wanted and they can cash in. They assault her, rob her, molest her, and finally take her to the local jail, where it takes the jail staff just a few minutes to determine that she's not the wanted woman.
BRISTOL, Va. – A woman accused of skipping bond was handcuffed, sexually assaulted during a strip search and hauled off to jail Oct. 9. But the three who arrested her were only masquerading as drug task force agents.

On top of that, police said, the fake agents nabbed the wrong woman and passed her to a bail bondsman in the hopes of receiving a reward.

The bondsman then took the woman to the Bristol Virginia Jail, where she was immediately freed because jailers quickly discerned her true identity.

“She clearly had identification to clearly show she wasn’t the person in question,” Bristol Police Detective Sgt. Steven Crawford said Thursday.

Charges of abduction, robbery, impersonating a law enforcement officer, conspiracy and sexual battery were filed against the two men and a woman who staged the false arrest, Crawford said.

Officers arrested Donna Fitzwater, of Bristol, Tenn., and Dwayne Peters, of Greeneville, Tenn., on Thursday. They continue to search for Stacy Herndon, of Lebanon, Va.

A fourth person – Doug Roller, of Bristol, Va. – is being charged as an accessory, Crawford said, based on accusations that Roller lured the woman to Mumpower Park in Bristol, Va., so the trio could corral her.

“They ran out with badges in their hands and they’re screaming ... drug task force,” Crawford said.

The detective said the trio hoped to receive a reward from bail bondsman J.C. Mullins, of Abingdon Bail Bonds, after he had distributed a photo of a woman he’d bonded out of jail and who had skipped a court appearance.

Contacted late Thursday, Mullins said: “I’m not ready to talk about it right now.”

Mullins was the subject of several recent Bristol Herald Courier stories that detailed how his son, a former magistrate named John C. “Tiny” Mullins III, falsified bail bond documents to hide questionable dealings between the two.

The father is now under investigation by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, which licenses bail bondsmen and women.

The son, Tiny Mullins, was fired from the magistrate’s office and is under investigation by a special prosecutor.

Crawford said Fitzwater, Herndon and Peters set out to find the girl shown in the picture.

“This girl [who was abducted], to me, they don’t even look alike,” Crawford said.

The woman and her friend were pulled from their car and handcuffed in the park. Several hundred dollars were confiscated from the woman, who then was subjected to a full-body cavity search for hidden drugs.
That TV show poser Duane "The Dog" Chapman and his fat wife have really made it seem cool to be a bounty hunter--someone who is not a police officer but who goes out and nabs criminals that some idiot bondsman bailed out of jail. Thanks to that show, every third zero suffering from "wanna-be" syndrome thinks that they can go out and just start rounding up criminals. Of course these people aren't police officers, and most of them could never pass the background checks and psychological examinations needed to become one. I have encountered several of them in my earlier life, and every one of them seemed to possess the following things:
1. police equipment that they were not entitled to have, from marked body armor to badges.
2. weapons that they could not lawfully carry on their persons or in their vehicles.
3. drugs and/or a criminal history.
4. an attitude that they could get away with anything because they were "bounty hunters".

An awful lot of these tools wind up in jail when they come to the attention of the real police, as they should. The industry is unregulated, there are no licensing or training requirements for these fools, and anyone can call themselves a bounty hunter, even convicted felons like Chapman, who never seems to mention on his show that all of the fugitives he chases were bailed out of jail by his fat, loud-mouthed wife.

To say that I despise these people as a class is an understatement. I have yet to meet one who wasn't a self-impressed whack-job who posed at least some threat to the general public. These three are no exception and they serve as the latest example of why the state of Virginia (and every other state) should establish criteria for who can be a bail recovery agent (the proper term for bounty hunter), what their training must consist of, and what their powers and limitations are.

In the meantime, I hope that these three are sued right out of their trailers, and the bondsman that they were working for is stripped of his license as well. as the story indicates, he's hardly on the up-and-up his own self.

19 comments:

  1. Amen. The bounty hunters need to be regulated and properly trained.

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  2. These bounty hunters all seem to have one thing in common..
    They're wannabe-badasses..
    I bet it's hilarious when they run up on a real badass.. :):)

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  3. if your going to lump everyone in to one category, I highly suggest you visit, "waronguns.com" Birds of a feather and all.

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  4. They should leave arresting people up to the REAL police.

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  5. Anonymous4:59 AM

    Interesting Points. Except, its a legal profession and when writers resort to fat jokes, they insult themselves in fact. Tired and easy way out. As for Chapman, I saw her on TV, she is not fat all, check her Twitter pic.

    Anyway, I have no problem with people taking criminals off the street

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  6. I've seen Beth Chapman's picture. She's not a small girl, nor will she ever be described as "fit" or "trim".

    But as to these bounty hunter jokers, they don't take "criminals" off the street. The people that they chase around have not been convicted but merely failed to appear in court and skipped out on a bond posted by a bail bondsman. This is what Chapman's wife does, She charges a hefty fee to bond these people out of jail, and when they skip out, she risks losing the money she puts up unless she gets them back. So her husband and a bunch of other tattooed mopes go find them, all with TV cameras in tow. The only one benefiting in Chapman's wife. All of these people were only charged with petty misdemeanor crimes and almost every one would eventually wind up coming into contact with another police officer who would find out about their fail to appear warrant and haul them in. It's not like they're chasing John Dillinger or taking down felons.

    If we're going to keep our arcane system of allowing companies to post bond for the accused, then bail recovery agents are going to need to be forced to conform to actual standards as far as their training and backgrounds are concerned as well as what they can and cannot do. But right now, it's unregulated and the guys who do it are mainly losers who get off on pretending to have some sort of status as a legal thug. Again, every one that I've met has been a loud-mouthed braggart, full of himself but usually with a criminal history that precludes him from getting any sort of job requiring a clearance, and most are involved in other shady stuff, usually involving drugs and illegal weapons or possession of police paraphernalia/impersonating a police officer.

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  7. Oh--and in regards to the poster who suggested that I go look at a particular blog and post my thoughts on the subject there...I've seen that site and I'm not impressed with many of the people who post there. It appeals mainly to the paranoid anti-government set--the ones who think that scumbags like Randy Weaver and David Olofson were framed by the government simply because they were such good people, and I'm not inclined to give it free advertising here nor do I care to go there and waste any more of my time.

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  8. In 23 yrs of LE , I have yet to meet a bounty hunter that I was even close to being impressed with.

    One called us because he thought a woman was hiding in her home ( and he had paper on her). We ended up taking him for DUI.

    I just dealt with a trio of them. They came to my bldg to see if they could get a kevlar vest back from one of their group that we arrested for BANK ROBBERY !

    They claimed they bought it for him as part of his job. I said " sorry boys , it was used in the commission of a crime ". " You aren't ever going to get it back and when we are done with it...it will be destroyed ." ( probably at our range)

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  9. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Only the title said bounty hunter. The story said "posed as drug task force agents". So how did this get turned into a Bounty Hunter story? With LE commenting on how unimpressed they are with Bounty Hunters but not realizing that the story wasn't about Recovery Agents, at all.....how impressed are we, now?!? I mean seriously. I have always worked closely with LE and never had a problem. Lumping all the Rambos, Cowboys, and Dogs with the true professionals is like me lumping all LE with the cop that got a 13 year old pregnant in my town; or how about the officer that was arrested for robbing banks on his day off, a few years ago; or maybe all LE should be considered the same as the the guy that was stealing drugs from the "prop room" and re-selling it on the streets of Atlanta. I mean, it is true that there needs to be more regulation in our industry but to say we are all like "whatever or whoever" that is asinine. Many of the professionals in this industry are prior LE and/or military, with degrees, on going training, more education and certification hours than the average Police Officer, the list can go on for ever. One example, my team and I go to the state required 8 hours of certification, we voluntarily attend OC, Taser, Baton, Tactical Movement, Cuffing, and Takedown trainings. We complete Man Tracker training each year along with taking Interveiw and Interrogation courses. I have a Bachelors in Intelligence; working on a Masters and 3 others have degrees, also. Just because you may be surrounded by idiots doesn't mean that everyone is an idiot. That only speaks volumes about your AO. Very few of those within this industry have a criminal background (Mr. ME). I couldn't be MI (35M) if I had a criminal mind or background. I have not met anyone in this industry that has a criminal background. I only know of Dog and I wouldn't work with him because of that, and many other reasons. So watch accusations about being criminals and unimpressed. The saying goes "You become who you associate with" so we can see what you are working with while you make your statements. None of us will be impressed with you, either. We do the job that you can't, won't, and are afraid to do. I would like to see the cop that will charge a house of gang banging drug dealers when he sees his SIQ head inside.....nope. That will never happen. He has a endless supply of backup that he will wait for. We work in 1, 2, and 3 man teams and we still get the job done; within the law and without liability "And make a dang good living at it, too."

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  10. Wow, Anonymous...you get bugged because I generalize about the type of people who do your job--a gerneralization based upon my experiences in which I have locked up more than a couple of your peers--and then you generalize about police.

    Please...

    Fact is, you're not better-trained or braver than the average police officer. Certifications from some fly-by-night bounty hunter training course don't measure up to actual training given to real law-enforcement officers that meets the standards set out by state and federal training councils and the peer review of veteran trainers who have actually done the work. Sorry. I don't think that any of the "bounty hunters" that I've locked up had a full set of teeth, much less an advanced degree in anything, except maybe french-fry cooking. Honestly, I'm betting that if you could be a real police officer, you would be. My guess is that something in your background prevented that so you jumped into something that you thought was just as cool. I can't speak to your claims about you rushing into some gang-banger's pad, but if you did, it doesn't make you a bad-ass...just reckless and not too bright, IMHO. Yep--when we go into a place known to be filled with scumbags, we do it right, we do it safe, and everybody goes home when it's done. We don't have to brag about doing it the dangerous way--we take pride in doing it the right way.

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  11. SnoWolf (Aka Anonymous)3:11 PM

    Sir, you really need training in comprehension. I stated that I am MI....35M in the Army, also. That requires a Top Secret clearance and makes my point about what is in my background. Were there anything negative, in my past, I could not hold the position I do. I do all of my training with Army SF, local Task Forces..., and I volunteer to do so. I am not made to do so. I choose to remain a professional in my field and doing so requires professional training. Several of you began lumping all BEA together and that is the reason why I used the same, as rebuttal. You want to know the difference between the BEAs that you lock up and those like me. It is simple, as you state, you lock up "Bounty Hunters" while the majority of us are "Bail Enforcement, Fugitive Recovery, ect Professionals” and experts in our fields. You also state, "Fact is"...well, sir, fact is I do have Mandate Training. I self paid to attend POST certification through Clayton County. I have been "recruited" by several local PD's but I never had any intention on being LE, so I turn them down. I never claimed to be a tough person, either. I have worked with many prior LE vets and they never stick around very long. Once they realize that the radio is only going to get you one or two people, as back up...they cannot take it. That was my point. No more. No less. We still have a job to do. There is a saying that goes something like this "The hero is not the one that acts without fear; the hero is the one that acts inspite of fear." Our job is to relieve the bondsman of his forfeiture with little to no liability. We cannot do that if we run home every time we get a case of the nerves. We do not have the option to call in 20 of our buddies. We do what we have to and in the process relieve LE of a portion of their caseload. I mean, do you really want to spend your “report writing” time chasing around folks that missed court or got a second charge while out on bond? At the same time, we save taxpayers a ton of money having new jails built or to pay for expensive tracking units and would still not have the man power to keep track of a subject.

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  12. SnoWolf (Aka Anonymous)3:12 PM

    I will say that officers do a job that I have never had any desire to do. I thank them for their service to my community and family. At the same time, I know and associate with many LE and I must say.... very little is done “the right way”. I have, yet, to meet the 100% straight and narrow Law Enforcement Official. There is always some back child support, vehicle up for repossession, wife beating, child beating, drugs, or some other illegal activity going on. Too many LE believe that the badge really is a shield...and will protect them from any and everything...like it makes them a God. You see, sir, I am not the fresh faced, high school kid that watches too much A&E. I am a 40+ year old with 9 years experience in Recovery, 22 years in the military, and 5 years in government security and protection. You may be right about the education of Recovery Agents in your AO but the population typically dictates the "type" of person that does a job. If all BEA in your AO are toothless and uneducated then I would bet that so are the majority of the populous and your LE officers would only be a slight step above. Otherwise, you have only run into the few BEA that you claim because THEY are idiots, Rambos, and Cowboys not because we all are. You have not met the professionals because you have nothing to offer them. They can do what they do without your assistance. Please believe that every Coweta, Clayton, Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Clark, Meriwether, and Harrison County officer either knows me or has heard my name. Not because I have ever been in trouble or because I am an important person, but because I have met with each sheriff and made an impression, in case I do ever have to call for assistance, they know whom they are assisting, so a trigger-happy officer does not hit us with Taser, OC, or lead. Each also knows of my background and training. I update them every time we (my crew) are re-certified or licensed and we go through the annual background check (including GCIC and NCIC). Lastly, sir, I have no God complex (referring to a statement from above). Most of the BEA that I associate with are humbled by the work we do. I am me, doing what I do, and being very good at it. That is all. Plain and simple.

    But, my points have been made, to the best of my ability. I will leave the "Bounty Bashing" party and continue to improve the quality of my life and industry.

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  13. So you're in the military AND you do your bail recovery job in the civilian world on the side?

    I have to say that that sounds a bit odd.

    As for your impression of the police officers that you say you know, all I can say is that the profession isn't filled with perfect people--none is--but you obviously don't know me, my professional peers and associates, and my friends in LE across the country. I know countless officers who are squared away in their professional as well as their personal lives, and I'll take any of them behind me when things go bad rather than have to rely on one or all of the so-called "bounty hunters" that I've encountered, all of whome expected me to treat them as an equal and give them professional courtesy, up to and including overlooking their being DWI and possessing narcotics, police equipment that they were not authorized to have, and weapons that they were not permitted to carry. And I never sought any of them out--every one of them drew my attention to them by their conduct or actions and then tried to pull the "we're all on the same team" schtick on me. If they'd been squared away from the start, I'd likely have never noticed them. And had it only been one encounter, I'd have dismissed it as an aberration. However there have been several of them over the years and I can't help but draw a conclusion about the class that they claim to represent.

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  14. SnoWolf4:02 PM

    As I have with LE....And yes. I am in the military and I am a Bail Recovery Agent in Georgia.

    You are correct. I don't know you and no one here knows all BEA/FRA. I used the same deductive reasoning that is being used here to make an observation. I do not believe that all LE are "bad guys" but the same has to be said about any and all legit professions. No one can ever say that the likes of Rex Venture, Scott Olsen, Scott McLean, the late Mark Cavendish, Kathy Blackshear, or LuVonda Farmer fit your description of lacking "a full set of teeth, much less an advanced degree in anything, except maybe french-fry cooking". Lets just say that we both need to learn a little diversity about those outside our own prfession....although I only used your reasoning to raise an example. I stated "Lumping all the Rambos, Cowboys, and Dogs with the true professionals IS LIKE me lumping all LE with the cop that got a 13 year old pregnant..." but I never said that was my belief or a fact. I COULD draw that conclusion on the experiences and encounters I have had. You are right about many of the "Bounty Hunters" in this profession but there are many that recieve training, act the part of a professional, stay well within the law, and push for more regulation and professionalism and they are Professional Bail Enforcment/Fugitive Recovery.

    Last statement, when you mention "police equipment that they were not authorized to have, and weapons that they were not permitted to carry" I must say, I don't know what judge or LE Officer is powerful enough to defy a federal case law but Taylor vs. Taintor allows the use of "strange and/or unusual weapons" in the apprehension of a fugitive. A true professional, educated in his profession would, not only beat the charge, but would have a great case against you and your local system. City, County, and State law can not supercede Federal law. That is like the officer, here, that continued to arrest people for carrying in a place of public gathering. Come to find out, he lost his job and left a huge case against the county. Stores and restraunts are not a place of public gathering according to federal law.

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  15. Actually, a judge's opinion in a case may or not be binding nationwide, and is typically not very broad, but in the cases where I've charged bounty hunters, they have had loaded weapons in the passenger compartments on their vehicles while DWI and while in the possession of narcotics, and they've also had body armor and raid jackets with the word "POLICE" on them, and even some gear marked with the logos of a specific federal agency that they did not work for. When asked about it, one of that crew readily admitted that they wore it and announced themselves as being federal agents because they felt that they were less likely to be shot at or encounter resistance. And every single one of these guys pled guilty to the felony charges laid on them, getting petty sentences, IMHO, but also forfietting all of the stuff AND picking up felony convictions.

    It sounds to me as it we're in agreement that there can be professionals in your field and I'd hope that you'll agree with my assertion that industry reform including mandatory training and background checks and a bar against those with criminal records or other histories of bad conduct would only impove things across the board for everyone. In short, if you do what law enforcement has been doing over the past couple of decades and raise the bar to screen out bad apples, the end result is more respect for the profession, more stability, and higher wages.

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  16. SnoWolf10:36 AM

    Agreed. I had a felling that we could find common ground, at some point. There is a definite need for screening and training so the cowboy’s, Rambo’s, and Dog wanna be’s do not ruin the industry for those that remain true professionals. Also, true professionals already attend non-required training that we feel should become required for all in this profession. Lastly, criminal charges should prohibit anyone from getting into this industry due to the knowledge and personal information that we become privy to.

    To explain the simultaneous military with Bail Recovery occupations....I have 12 years on active duty and 9 years with Guard and Reserves. I got into Recovery when I went to NGR duty and continue to participate in Security Clearance/Background Investigations for the Army and National Agencies while actively working in the Recovery/Security fields. This is one reason for the continuous education (It helps with promotions and advancements). So long as I am taking courses, I may as well take classes that will help with my professions.

    Thank you for your take in this debate. I appreciate your views and hope to gain a more professional view of everyone that is in the Recovery, Repo, and Security fields through open minded debate, regulation by all states, and professional education.

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  17. This thread is interesting and quite indicative of the negatives that both Law Enforcement and Fugitive Recovery people face daily. I would think it strange to paint an entire industry negatively based on contact with "Several" people. I would not paint all LEO as crooked based on personal experiences, or comments from fugitives that I have apprehended that could not understand why I didn't just take their money and drugs as the cops regularly do. Both scenarios are extremely distasteful and not indicative of the majority of either profession.

    I am a Bail Enforcement Agent, Hold a National Security Clearance, Conduct Federal Back Ground Investigations as a contractor, and have made apprehensions in 34 states to date, all documented. I am also a "Stupid Bondsman" that takes very seriously my pledge to the court that my charges will appear when required, and that is a far better option then Pre-Trial Release, 10% to the Court Bonds or RORing repeat offenders. Not everyone that we have to recover is a Girl Scout, and not everyone that we chase is a 1% Biker. Not everyone that is successful in this profession wants to be a Police Officer, or could not qualify if they so desired. Many could not handle the pay cut or the internal politics. To the point of going in properly, you are correct. If done properly, it is in conjunction with LEO, after proper investigation and briefings.

    Best of luck to you and stay safe!

    Scott

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  18. One last comment, VA does have regulations, training and licensing, these offenders belong in jail and are not licensed in the state. As is often the case, many times these guys are not what they want to be.

    Scott

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