Wednesday, August 04, 2010

New Jersey Tightens Reins on Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters in New Jersey can now call themselves licensed professionals as the state begins to corral an industry that is better known for its cowboys than its boy scouts.

The first licenses – 84 wallet-sized IDs with the words "Bounty Hunter" emblazoned across the top – were issued by New Jersey State Police several months ago in response to legislation that was designed to remove the kind of bad actors who mistook a Rutherford woman for a fugitive in 2005.

Those who support the licensing requirement, who include bounty hunters and the bail bond agents who hire them, say it helps legitimize an industry that operated without accountability.

But some of the same bounty hunters who support the idea of regulation, say few municipal police departments are asking for identification cards.

"I have yet to have any cop ask me for my New Jersey Bounty Hunters license," said Joe Banzaca, who goes hunting with his middle-aged nephew at least once a week for ASAP Bail Bonds in Hackensack. "It's just another way for this state to make money."

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