Botched bounty hunt in Butte ‘tipping point’ to bail bond bill in Legislature

MIKE SMITH

In response to a bounty hunt that turned tragically fatal in Butte and other incidents, a state official wants lawmakers to rein in rogue bail bond agents and “Wild West” tactics sometimes used to nab fugitives.

Troy Downing, Montana’s auditor and commissioner of Securities and Insurance, is pushing a bill that would require all bail recovery agents to be trained and licensed and in most circumstances, notify police of planned apprehensions.

They would have to be 21 or older, could not be convicted felons and must be instructed on procedures for detaining people, their civil rights, the use of force and civil liability, among other things.

Downing’s office wrote the bill, and it’s being sponsored by Republican state Rep. Bill Mercer of Billings and Democrat state Sen. Ryan Lynch of Butte.

It has already received a hearing and strong endorsement from the House Judiciary Committee and is now before the full House.

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“This is common sense legislation to ensure that the public is protected and the recovery agent is licensed and insured,” Lynch told The Montana Standard. “I applaud the bipartisan work to make Montana communities safer.”

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