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Bill pushes for return of bounty hunter guidelines

POSTED May 31, 2012 4:39 p.m.

A bill that would re-establish state requirements for bounty hunters, specifically in the areas of training and certification, passed through the Assembly and is moving on to the State Senate.
AB 2029 would re-establish the "Bail Fugitive Recovery Persons Act" into state law, requiring that all bail fugitive recovery persons meet specified education, notice, and conduct requirements while out in the field. The act expired on Jan. 1, 2010.
Bail fugitive recovery persons, commonly known as bounty hunters, earn their living by tracking down bail fugitives. If an accused person out on bail fails to appear at his or her court date, the bail agent who posted the bond for the accused may contract with a bounty hunter to retrieve the person.
The act would require that bounty hunters be at least 18 years of age and prevent convicted felons from serving as bounty hunters, unless licensed by the Department of Insurance.
Bounty hunters would also be required to complete 20 hours of classroom instruction and a 40-hour power of arrest course certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
The bill would also require that a bounty hunter can only apprehend, detain, or arrest a bail fugitive only if working under the expressed written authorization of a licensed bail agent;
It prohibits a bounty hunter from wearing a uniform or carrying a badge that could imply that person works for a governmental agency, law enforcement, or a public safety task force.
The bail fugitive recovery person would also have to provide a local police or sheriff's department with at least a six-hour advance notice of his or her intent to apprehend a bail fugitive, except for in exigent situations, among other provisions.
The bill was authored by Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and is sponsored by the California Department of Insurance.
"I am pleased that the Assembly has passed this important legislation regarding the re-establishment of requirements for the bounty hunter profession," Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. "This legislation will give my department oversight of this profession in an effort to create much needed safety mechanisms for law enforcement and consumers."
The Assembly approved the bill Wednesday. The bill now heads to the California State Senate for consideration.

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