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Being a bail-bondsman is a dangerous line of work, but this agent was given a chance to save a life.
I don’t normally talk about my job. As a bail-bond agent, with the cases I’m involved in, it’s best to keep a low profile. I’ve got to assume that the people I track down, the ones running away from the law, are dangerous. But it wasn’t until a recent case that I realized I might not always be the one in danger.
Late one Wednesday, I pulled a file from the stack of about a dozen manila folders on my desk. A straightforward drunk-driving case. Let’s call the guy J.D. Class C misdemeanor, just over the legal limit.
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My company posted bail, $5,000, but J.D. was a no-show for his date with the judge. Now there was a warrant out on him.
Easy enough, I thought. J.D. owned a business. We had his work address, home address, vehicle description and booking photo on file. I waited till 10:00 p.m.–I do my best investigative work after dark–then left to stake out his store.
I pulled my car into the strip mall and idled in the shadows. The store lights were off; the company’s sign had disappeared. His vehicle, a large SUV, was nowhere in sight.
Probably holed up at home, I thought. I drove over to J.D.’s apartment complex. There was that SUV, in a parking spot. Still had the magnetic labels with his business’s name and everything. Gotcha, I thought.
You’ve got to be careful bringing in a bail jumper. That Dog the Bounty Hunter show isn’t really how it’s done. If you go storming in, the guy might bolt, or react violently.
So I called the super of the complex and explained who I was. He agreed to knock on the door and confirm that J.D. was at home. Meanwhile, I kept my eye trained on that SUV. If J.D. ran for it, I’d stop him.
The super returned, shaking his head. “I keyed into the apartment. He’s not there.” Tomorrow’s another day, I thought, and called it a night.
Thursday evening, though, same story. That SUV hadn’t budged. Maybe he’s left the state, I thought. I’d seen it before–a guy will do almost anything to avoid jail.
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Just then, a smaller SUV zoomed past me, out of the apartment complex. I only caught a glimpse of the driver...but he had the same build, same hair color as the guy in the booking photo.
I remained at my post in case I was wrong–besides, I didn’t want to get into a car chase. But I had a hunch it was my guy. I was getting closer.
Friday, I got up early and made some calls. I found an interesting piece of news. J.D. had moved his place of business. Not too far away.
I pulled into the lot and saw his sign. That same small SUV too, the one I’d seen the night before. This was it. My chance to nab him. I geared up–bulletproof vest, Taser, bail-enforcement badge–and approached the store.
I opened the door. “Freeze!” I said, flashing my badge. “I have a warrant for your arrest.”
J.D. sat at his desk in the rear of the store, typing away at his computer. The place was empty except for us. He looked up. Froze.
“You’re under arrest,” I repeated. “Get down on the ground.”
J.D. jumped up and ran into the back room. Remember what I said about people who run away from the law being dangerous?
I gripped my Taser, which can deliver an incapacitating but not fatal jolt of electricity, and sidestepped my way toward the back room. I peered around the corner and scoped out the situation.
J.D. was hiding behind a pallet, not very successfully.
This time I shouted. “Get down on the ground, sir, or I’ll use force!”