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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Safety for Fugitive Recovery Agents from the Bail Report

The following is an article that I wrote for the Bail Report:

Safety for Fugitive Recovery Agents

Protect Yourself From Danger

Fugitive Recovery Safety

By Raymond Miller

Editor's note: Raymond Miller is a fugitive recovery agent and law enforcement instructor. Miller is a licensed and insured private investigator, a former marine and former law enforcement officer. He currently works for Intelligent Ops International, Inc., an investigation, intelligence, and training provider dedicated to providing outstanding service and innovation to clients.

Fugitive recovery is a dangerous profession. It should not be attempted by any individual who has not been specifically trained to overcome encounters in the field. These are a few safety tips to help you be safe.


  • Each agent must train on his own or with other agents daily. This training is paramount to surviving a deadly encounter. Exercises should include: cardio, strength and endurance. In addition, perishable skills such as self defense, arrest methods, building entries and firearms (daylight and low-light) are very important. At the end of the day, the rule to live by is “everybody goes home alive.”

Prior to each Fugitive Recovery Operation

  • Make sure that you have all documentation required for each fugitive.
  • Assess the risk level of the operation. For instance, is the suspect known to be armed? Does the suspect have dangerous prior offenses? How many known associates are in the area where the fugitive is hiding?
  • Ensure you have the proper number of agents to perform the operation safely and successfully.
  • Check all weapons, safety equipment and vehicles prior to commencement of operation. Remember Murphy’s law; I can tell you from experience what can go wrong, will go wrong, so be prepared for anything.
  • Go over the operational plan with all agents. The plan can be written or oral. Make sure everyone understands what their job is during the operation and go over the contingency plan for the operation. For instance, what will you do if there is a situation where you have to fire your weapon? What are your options?
  • Have one agent in a nondescript vehicle surveillance the area for counter-surveillance, lookouts and dangers.
  • Wait for positive identification from a distance, if possible. If it is not possible, then create a ruse to get closer to the suspected fugitive for positive identification.
  • After identified, each agent should remember these six rules when approaching and contacting fugitives:

1) Watch the fugitive’s hands. This is why police officers always say, “Show me your hands!”

2) Look for possible weapons.

3) Look around for friends, relatives, or associates – anyone who might interfere.

4) Look for escape routes and be aware of them in case the fugitive tries to escape. This also should be mentioned in the initial operation plan.

5) Be aware of your footing. You can’t help your fellow agents if you sprain your ankle in a hole during a takedown.

6) Look around for cover and concealment. Understand the difference. Cover is something that will stop a bullet and concealment only hides you or the team from the fugitive. Concealment is used to keep the element of surprise.

  • As soon as you have the suspect in custody, do a complete search, take him away from the area and to the jail as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Make your notifications, as required by state law. (Some states require it before the operation while other states allow it after the operation.)

After the Fugitive Recovery Operation

  • If you had to force entry into a house, make sure that you take pictures of the damage to the door and door frame. Use a camera with a time/date stamp for the photos. If possible, have an agent stand by for a locksmith if there is no one else in the house to prevent items from being stolen.
  • If you had to use force, such as a baton or taser, take pictures of the injuries from the baton or the entry points of the taser.
  • Don’t relax until the fugitive has been released to the appropriate authority.

Keep all of these things in mind and you should survive each fugitive recovery operation.

If there is a subject you would like to write about for The Bail Report, or you are interested in submitting an article you have already written, please contact us.

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