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
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
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
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
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
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.