The federal statutes governing bounty hunters in the United States have been on the books for well over 100 years. In that time individual states have implemented their own legal definitions for the profession, but by and large bounty hunters have served a role that supports the U.S. criminal justice system, performing a valuable service that ensures criminals make their court dates. But sometimes bounty hunters overstep their boundaries, and cross into activity that may actually be considered criminal. Such is the case of a Colorado bounty hunter who is accused of having impersonated a police officer.
A Colorado man is facing trial after having been arrested on charges of impersonating a police officer. The suspect, Leslie Dewayne Simpson, insists that he would never impersonate a police officer, but admits that he uses a badge in the execution of his job functions as a bounty hunter in the state. The charges stem from an incident in which Simpson is said to have approached two women process servers as they attempted to serve legal paperwork to an employee of a Colorado auto dealership. He allegedly flashed a badge, told the woman he was a police officer, and ordered them to leave the scene immediately. As part of his defense, Simpson says that he had been warned by police officers the day before not to flash a badge in an attempt to impersonate a police officer, and would never have done so again after a being told not to.
The case brings to light an interesting aspect of the bounty hunting profession, namely that their role and level of authority is often nebulous in the eyes of the public. While there is no doubt that bounty hunters are not police officers, the fact is that they do work to help local, state, and federal judicial systems function.
Simpson’s history of impersonating a law enforcement officer, a history that includes being arrested on weapons charges, shows that state regulation of bounty hunters has its merits. Additionally, state regulators may want to look at whether or not individual bounty hunters should remain licensed after such arrests.