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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guest Commentary-Elevating Our Standards

Editor's Note: The following is guest commentary submitted by Randall Smith, a certified trainer for both CE and initial education. Smith is also a licensed bail bond agent.

I want to thank Agent Cooper for his commentary and editorial regarding HB 628. Opening discussion and dialogue on current issues within the industry should be on going. If we are going to elevate our standards of professionalism then we must open discussion for relevant positive change. Rest assured if we don’t someone else will. We MUST become proactive in our own industry.

Agent Cooper has made many valid comments and points regarding bail in Missouri. One of the most significant points he makes is the number and quality of agents in this industry. As a State Certified Trainer in Missouri I see people come to the 24 Hour Initial Basic Training with nearly delusional preconceptions about this industry. Mainly brought about by the media and reality TV shows.

Training in this state for the Professional Bail Agent is far less than adequate in preparing them for this complex industry. Currently we allow nearly everyone to attend a 24 hour course. Some can barely read and write, they attend, we then push them on through. They take a very easy 60 Question State Examination and receive their license. They are in NO WAY prepared for this industry.

We must elevate the standards and requirements for entering this profession by first making the training and testing requirements more standardized. We should demand a higher level of professional that enters into this business. Once licensed, the professional agent should then be required to have substantially higher CE requirements to maintain the licensure privilege. As an example, the State of New Mexico requires 120 Hours of basic training on a pass-fail basis. There are strict standards to even be accepted into their academies. Once they pass, the must sit for a 250 Question State Certifying Examination. They are issued a probationary license and must complete 100 hours of field training before they are issued a permanently renewable license with additional CE requirements. Agents in that state are highly regarded for the most part and have very similar training to law enforcement.

The tendency in this industry, (in our state), is to seek out those who offer CE Credits by merely processing the paperwork. We as true professionals should be demanding better CE training. If we represent ourselves as professionals then we should be seeking real and valuable training relevant to our industry. We MUST invest in ourselves by seeking out this training and not take short cuts just to get a license renewed. This is NOT professional practice. We as professional trainers should not allow this practice in the first place.

Mr. Cooper points out the practice of the courts issuing 10%, Cash and OR bonds. All one has to do is look at the FTA cases in those counties practicing these policies and see the number of unresolved cases. In my opinion when courts order cash or 10% bonds, they have crossed the line and now are involved in private enterprise, which is a direct conflict of local government. There is a huge amount of research that proves the viability of the bail system in reducing those FTA numbers. This stands to reason since we have a lot to loose when an FTA occurs.

Until we increase the standards of qualification in this industry and provide real relevant training I see this industry staying the same. Certainly there are many other issues and much more legislation needed. However, without seriously reconsidering the industry qualifications and training policies I do not see any viable way to address these issues. We have to make the training tough and rigorous. Only then will we be able to see a change in the level of the professional agent. New candidates should have to PASS the rigorous training program and testing before they qualify for licensure.

Finally, if we as professionals continue to tolerate impropriety, and other misconduct within the industry, then this industry will always have a "black cloud" haning over us. Another area where we need to become proactive!

Thank you again Agent Cooper for your comments. I hope the rest of us in this industry jump on board and become pro-active.

Randall E Smith, L.B.A., C.P. I., State Certified Trainer
MARC Academy of Professional Bail Agents
Randall E. Smith
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  1. Mr. Randall how long have you been a
    Where did you get your specialized training

  2. C'mon folks. This is shylocking not brain surgery./

  3. I agree 100% with Randall Smith. I feel like the courts should not interfere with private enterprise. I also feel that the State of Missouri should require 10% in full on surety bonds at the time of bond. It seems that we lose enough money as it trying to finance these bonds or competitors trying to under cut other bonding agents. This has got to stop somewhere.

  4. I believe the only solution to this problem
    would be to eliminate the necessity
    for defendants to shop for a bond.
    I`ve been writing bail for 11 years.
    The undercutting fly by nighters is certainly
    out of control even going so far as trading
    bail for favors if you know what I`m saying or even worse, Drugs. Both are abhorrent and criminal
    of course. I believe the only worthwhile legislation would be to cause the 10% to be paid up front, none of this nonsense would exist. No other movement is necessary.
    If you want my support then let this be the focal point of anything we do. Lets get what we work for up front and not have to chase it.

  5. Ben Hilton GBA2/12/2009 9:37 PM

    To the person questioning Randy’s tenure and quailifactions:

    It’s not very often when a GBA finds a person of Randall Smith's caliber. A person with impeccable morals and ethics, a nature born leader, educated and experienced in proper business practice.

    Randy has compiled and organized more information concerning our trade than any bondsman that I have met.

    I recognized his ability very quickly and as soon as I believed he was ready, I promoted him to management and placed agents under his direction.

    Randy entered the business and grabbed it by the horns and I’ll bet on him anytime an agent thinks he can compare. You can probably tell, I am his friend, if you want to attack someone, go after the people after your job and not one of the good guys.

  6. keep it up this nice sharing...............


Although Missouri Bondsman encourages debate on topics of interest to the bail industry, please be aware that comments are moderated. Please observe the posting rules. No comments will be printed that contain spam, profanity, or libelous comments. Please post comments in a civil, professional manner.