Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bondsmen Attempt to Improve Image

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bondsmen Attempt to Improve Image

Article excerpt

Associated Press If the average Oklahoman thinks about bail bondsmen at all, he probably envisions a seedy, cigar-chomping, shady character, with gravy stains on his tie and larceny in his heart.

Dudley Goolsby Jr., a bondsman for the past 15 years, concedes that those in his profession have an image problem. But he's trying to change that.

Goolsby, 48, of Oklahoma City, has been president of the Oklahoma Bondsmen's Association for the past three years.

The Oklahoma State University graduate got into the bail bond business in his native McCurtain County in 1976.

"I didn't have any trouble in McCurtain County," he said. "We got along well with the judges, the district attorney, the sheriff and all the lawyers.

"But when I moved to Oklahoma City, I learned we were looked down on.

"We had some bondsmen who we'd let get away with some things, and they brought some bad opinions down on the rest of us," he said. "That made me mad. So we decided we were going to do something about it."

Goolsby and some allies set out to clean up their industry.

One of the first things they did was hire veteran lobbyist Bill Reynolds, a onetime aide to the late Gov. and U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr.

"He was sort of our guide out here" at the Capitol, Goolsby said.

With Reynolds' help, the association won passage of legislation in 1989 that would require prospective bail bondsmen to have 20 hours of instruction before they could apply for a license. Bondsmen also are required to take 10 hours of instruction each year in order to keep their licenses.

"We're one of three states that require instruction, and the only state where bondsmen actually teach the courses," Goolsby said.

"Several states are now copying Oklahoma's law," he said. "Colorado recently wrote and asked for a copy of the law."

The association also is adopting a code of conduct and setting up an ethics committee to police its members.

"When we first started coming out here (to the Capitol), we couldn't hardly get anyone to talk to us because of the past actions of some our people," Goolsby said. "I know our image isn't good. But we want to make our industry more respected and raise the level of professionalism. …

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