By Richard Chase
Special to the Durant Democrat
Choosing to be a bail bondsman and part-time bounty hunter was an unlikely profession for Ladonna Hobbs who has been described by high school classmates as a shy, quiet girl when attending school at Calera.
The 1987 graduate of Calera High School became a bondsman eight years ago, leaving the management positions at two fast food establishments. She wasn’t looking for excitement but a job where she could have more time with her daughter who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. She has since adopted a son and has another daughter along with her partner John Dulin.
Her goal was never to become a bounty hunter but it became a necessity when she became a licensed bondsman. Most of the criminals she bails out are in for non-violent crimes, but there are occasions when she has to revoke a bond and she has the authority to make arrests. When it becomes necessary to make an arrest she will hire a licensed bounty hunter, but most cases she is able to use other means and will personally go after the violator.
Most of her cases are domestic abuse and drug-related charges but sometimes they can become violent when faced with the prospect of going back to jail. She was recently injured while trying to stop a fugitive from fleeing in an automobile. The suspect finally fled on foot but was captured a short time later by local police.
Her profit margin when having to hire a bounty hunter is on the minus side, so unless the situation looks dangerous she will use other methods including using local police who in most cases are cooperative. Bonds that are around 500 dollars she will usually post the bond and let them pay it out over a period of time. When they fail to make payment after numerous warnings and attempts to collect she will revoke the bond and then began proceeds to make an arrest.
She is armed with a baton, Mace, handcuffs and is licensed to carry a firearm. She recently added a high-powered Taser after an incident of stalking that became a little too dangerous. One man she bonded out had some serious mental problems and was able to locate her home. After showing up twice exhibiting unusual behavior and going to the courthouse looking for her, he was arrested. She has since filed a restraining order against him, but she knows a piece of paper will not stop someone with mental problems.
“Bounty hunting is not all the excitement as it is portrayed on reality television,” said Hobbs. “They don’t show them sitting outside a home watching all night and nothing happen. It’s not about kicking down doors and wrestling someone to the ground, it’s more about mind games.”
Hobbs uses technology to track bond jumpers and can usually find their location through a variety of means although she chooses not to reveal all her methods. Cell phones were an important tool in locating a jumper, but now they can be turned off or otherwise make that source useless. Facebook is another tool and some jumpers or their friends can’t resist making comments helpful in her attempts to locate them. She also uses social media to post the mug shot and other information when she begins a search.
Although she has a degree in business management from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and worked in management positions, being a bondsman gives her the freedom to make her own hours to fit the needs of her family. When a chase begins it can take a lot of her time at all hours of the night, but the rewards seem worth the effort and she has the support of Dulin.
The type of people the attractive mother of three deals with can be a threat at times and she doesn’t take unnecessary risks knowing she has a family depending on her.
“Making sure my kid’s needs are met is the most important thing in my life,” said Hobbs. “Spending more time with my family and friends is my goal.”