Bail bondsman gives insight into job following shooting of colleague
JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - While one bail bondsman is in an area hospital recovering after being shot - allegedly by a man he was trying to bring in - another bail bondsman took to the streets, providing an inside look at a job he says is often misunderstood by the public at large.
Shawn Baker says working as a bail bondsman means being in and out of courthouses on a regular basis. But it is the unknown involved with each pickup that can cause the most stress.
"Just like police officers say, there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop, there's no such thing as a routine pick up for us," Baker said.
Baker spoke with NewsChannel 12 just days after fellow bail bondsman Corey Briggs was shot while out trying to make a pick up in Jacksonville on Monday afternoon. The alleged shooter, 39-year-old Michael Keith Jackson, is behind bars, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Briggs' wife Juaranita tells NewsChannel 12 that her husband, who was shot through the shoulder and had the bullet exit through his neck, was fortunate. "Things could have been a lot worse," she said.
Jackson had missed a court date Monday morning on marijuana possession charges and a destruction of evidence charge, and Briggs was tasked with collecting him and bringing him into authorities.
Even with something as relatively benign as Jackson's charges were, Baker said, "it can go that fast. It can escalate that fast."
Bondsmen often have to go to homes not knowing what awaits them there.
"We have to go to that door not knowing what's behind it," Baker said. "If they're in there, if they're not in there, if they're hiding."
One of the greatest misperceptions, Baker says, is painting all bail bondsman as bounty hunters.
"We're not just some Joe-schmoe that went out for a quick easy buck," he said. "We're here to create something that's gonna be beneficial for the local community."
Additionally, he says changes in how some states handle bail have devastated the bail bondsman industry - and in some cases, made the public less safe.
"Non-violent offenders are just being released," he said of certain states that have made major changes on bail. "Released back out."