History of the Oklahoma Bondsman Association

by Dudley Goolsby, Jr., President
Oklahoma Bondsman Association

The Oklahoma Bondsman Association is quickly approaching its twentieth anniversary. Research for this article included a review of newsletters from 1987 to the present and personal recollection of conversations with longtime members.

Our first meeting occurred in 1987 at Fuzzy's Restaurant in Oklahoma City. I can't remember everyone there on that day, but Joe Fisher, Eddie McCombs, Ken Boyer, Zig Ziegler, Bill Chenhall, J. B. Askins and Barry Tucker come to mind. Those present realized our future lay in banding together for both self preservation and the improvement of our chosen profession.

In the early 1980's, several insurance companies failed or stopped doing business, leaving the State of Oklahoma and its court system in the position of having thousands of dollars of bond money owed to the court system for bond forfeitures. Bills were introduced in the state legislature to do away with our industry and to turn it over to various governmental agencies. The Legislature felt that the industry was not policing itself and surely the state could do better.

In the mid-1980's, we tried to figure out what went wrong. The Insurance Commission weeded out a few less competent bonding agents. The 'New Day Program' was started in Tulsa County and the 'Own Recognizance Program' was instituted in Oklahoma County.

In 1986 several members of our industry met with the Insurance Commissioner's office and worked out an agreement whereby we would pay a fee in the amount of $2.00 per thousand of the face amount of the bond. This money was to be used to hire investigators. The Commissioner in exchange supported an extension of time on forfeitures from 50 days to 181 days. In 1988, we paid the Insurance Commissioner's office over $200,000 in fees and over $30,000 in fines.

In April, 1989, we were incorporated as the Oklahoma Bondsman Association. We immediately started working to clean up the bond laws in Oklahoma, and introduced legislation to upgrade the bondsman profession. One of our first efforts was a bill requiring 20 hours of education for licensure. Governor Henry Bellmon vetoed the bill. With help of Lobbyist and later Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bondsman Association Bill Reynolds we were able to override the veto. The bill also required 10 hours of instruction each year to retain a license. For several years Oklahoma was one of only three states that required education and continuing education for licensure. Now almost all states have an educational requirement.

We were the first in the nation with the legal requirement that only our Association has the responsibility for conducting accredited education courses. As a result, our members have begun to have a sense of pride in their own profession.

In 1993, your Oklahoma Bondsman Association purchased its own building only two blocks from the State Capitol Building. This gives us a physical presence near the Oklahoma Legislature that is most important. We use the building not only for our own meetings and educational programs, but also to hold fundraiser parties for our friends that are running for public office. In the political world we live in, this one use of the building more than justifies its ownership by the association.

For many years, Stuart Strasner, who later became Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association, then Charles Jones, served as Education Consultants for both the continuing education and pre-licensing programs.

The original incorporation was as a for profit corporation with shares owned by each member, which admittedly was a mistake and created some organizational and political problems for us. Finally 10 years later in 1999 and we re-incorporated as a not-for-profit organization.

In 1997, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that placed all fees, receipts and monies collected by the Insurance Commissioner to the credit of the Bail Bondsmen Revolving Fund and dedicated the funds to the expense of examinations, licensing, investigations, and providing of forms, the operating expenses of the Department, and other related expenses necessitated by the act. In 1997 the OBA also hired Bob Rollins as our Executive Director. He is a founding member and past president of the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives. One of his first undertakings was to help us find and purchase a new building for our headquarters.

In 2006, the Oklahoma bondsmen paid $783,650.48 in fees and $155,233.00 in fines to the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

And now, in 2007, we are hiring a new full-time Executive Director to help lead us into the future. Cathy Guyer is well known to most bondsmen because of her position as Director of the Bail Bond Division of the Oklahoma Insurance Department since 1991. She assumed her duties for the OBA in April.

Since our formation in 1987, we have grown in both numbers and prestige. Most bondsmen are viewed by the general public as businessmen serving in an area of need. While we have not completely shaken the image of the bounty hunter, our services are now viewed as being necessary for a smooth and efficient operation of the criminal justice system.

Bondsmen do have a definite place in the criminal justice system. Indeed, we save the taxpayers money and we want to become an even more productive part of the system. If bondsmen were utilized more, there would be an even greater savings to the taxpayers.

Your profession and your association are held in great regard by the general public, the court system, and the legislature. We intend to work toward a future with even more recognition of the good works of our profession.

 

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Oklahoma Bondsman Association
222 Northeast 27th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Office: 405-524-5920
Fax: 405-601-6484
Toll Free: 1-866-374-6257