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Have gun, will travel 

An interview with Darryl Hansley, bail bondsman

ON THE SIDE of city buses, large ads show the photograph of a bail bondsman—a big man fiercely scowling at the world.

But in his office on Chatham Parkway, bail bondsman Darryl Hansley smiles. The owner of A Bright Day Bail Bond Inc., looks relaxed. He wears a multicolored shirt and a cheery yellow cap, and he calls his business style upbeat.

Could you describe your business?

I write bonds for people when they go to jail. No limit. It can be from $400 or $300 up to a million dollars. I take cash, credit, property for collateral. My clients can be anybody. They can be arrested for traffic violations, for shoplifting, for DUI, for being a drug offender, for child molesting, for murder.

My staff isn’t that big — just an office manager, three different people writing bonds and six doing bail recovery. We have to do recovery when a person doesn’t show up in court. In most cases, we retrieve that person and put him back in custody. We work seven days a week. Everyone works eight hour shifts except me. I work all of them.

How dangerous is your business?

Sometimes, it can be very dangerous. Recently, we got a woman in the car and she tried to kick the windows out. She actually bit me. I had to have a tetanus shot. The smallest bonds can be the most dangerous ones. People get out of jail. They don’t want to go back in jail.

And every day, a person goes negative on the bond. And five percent of the time, they leave the state. We’ll go to California. If the bond is big enough, we go wherever we need to go to retrieve the person.

How did you get into this business?

This was something I always wanted to do. In my neighborhood, right across the street from me, there was a bail bondsman. At first, my background was in life insurance. But really got things up and going in 2001. It was the opportunity to be self-employed and have no limits on income.

And this is where you can actually help people. You take the child that comes in here and got off on the wrong side of the track. You talk to him. And some of them will listen. You give them words of wisdom — a pep talk.

I’ve had some satisfying cases. I had a case where a young boy was on bond for murder. He said he didn’t do it. And we believed what he was saying. He went to court and was exonerated of the charges.

What is your most dangerous case?

I’ve been blessed. We haven’t had one where someone is getting shot. But there are situations where we’ve had to draw weapons on people.

When you pick a person up, depending on where it’s at, you’ve got to pull your weapon so you’ve got the upper hand on that person. You could have a gun — or a stun gun. The recovery people carry both.

I’ve had to bond my bail recovery people out. We had a situation where they were chasing someone. And they were riding down the street pointing guns out the window. They didn’t retrieve the person. And they ended up going to jail. They should have just let it go and try to get him another day.

What’s the best part of this business?

Being in control of your own interests. You can do six figures easy. Some folks are doing seven figures.

Are you afraid of your clients?

I think so. But it’s wise to be afraid. Because if you weren’t afraid, you’re not being careful in what you’re doing. You’re not covering yourself.

Do you carry a weapon?

Yes, ma’am.

Do you carry a handgun?

Two or three of them.

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