Local Bail Associations Can Be Effective

Brian SmithAfter spending the weekend at home in Indy, I boarded a direct flight to LAX Sunday night. I sat across from Reggie Miller (#31) on the flight across country, he never said a word. Reggie will forever be treated like the rock star he is, in Indiana.

American Surety has a number of agents in California and I wanted to visit as many as I possibly could before winding down this year’s travel schedule.

As was the case during my time in Colorado last week, where I was able to attend the second meeting ever of the Rocky Mountain Bail Bond Agents, I got wind that a year end meeting of the San Diego County Bail Agents Association was being held at the The Butcher Shop Restaurant on Tuesday. I can’t help myself, I like to participate in any discussions about bail and local meetings can be the grittiest of all.

Not being a member of the San Diego County association, I called my good friend Marco LiMandri to obtain permission to attend. Permission granted, I attended the meeting with Brian Smith of Captain Smith’s Bail Bonds, a new agent to American Surety Company. Brian is a former Marine and a second generation bail agent (his father was Larry Smith), who began writing bail shortly after returning from serving in the first Gulf War. Brian is proud of his service and it is clearly evident in how he decorates his office.

The luncheon meeting was well attended. The discussion focused on how to improve the competitive dynamic in San Diego. There has been significant solicitation around jails, as well as bail slamming, the practice of bonding defendants without first obtain cosigners and premium, which presumably are secured after the bond has been posted. The SDBAA is very proactive and consciences about how the bail profession is conducted and perceived in the San Diego market. Their goal seems to be to maintain a high level of professionalism in an environment of fair competition.

While a number of states have a state association, I can only think of a handful of cities with a local association, Fort Worth, Houston, San Jose, San Diego and Santa Ana. The San Bernardino area agents dissolved their association earlier this year apparently due to a lack of participation. County associations can be very useful when dealing with local issues involving the interaction between bail agents and the jail, concerning solicitation, consumer complaints, etc., which are issues too local to be handled by a state association. Taking up an issue of concern for local agents is best done with one voice as opposed to one bail agent standing alone.

Large cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York City, Miami and Dallas should consider forming a local association. Big cities tend to have big problems. Working together on a local level to resolve local issues can be beneficial to all bail agents and a good way to maintain a high level of professionalism and unity.

Send me a comment if your county has an established local association.