Bounty hunters who work in the lower Michigan/upper Indiana region – or Michiana as it is often called – prefer to refer to themselves as “fugitive recovery agents.” But regardless of what you call them, these men and women take their jobs very seriously and understand that it is not only about collecting a fee for bringing fugitives into custody, but about keeping the public safe from those criminals.
According to many recovery agents in Michiana, the job has been the subject of a significant amount of negative publicity over the years that has led to something of a stigma that they say has taken away from the value that these professionals play within the justice system in the United States.
Nevertheless, Michiana’s fugitive recovery agent community is a tight knit group despite the various agencies being inherently in competition with one another. The public’s perception of the fugitive recovery industry is one that is, as one agent describes it, the “bad boy” element of American law enforcement. That is to say, people outside the industry – and even some within it – see the business of bounty hunting as one that has few rules and guidelines for getting the job done and hence has an image of being somewhat rebellious.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, however, as the best fugitive recovery agents in the business follow the letter of the law in carrying out their work and take very seriously the fact that they are often pursuing extremely dangerous individuals.
Pat Salerno, a recovery agent for the last 20 years, describes the job that he and his colleagues perform as being “98 percent sheer boredom and 2 percent sheer terror,” indicating that most of the job is paperwork and looking for the next suspect to recover with the rest being the actual pursuit of that suspect. The bottom line for Salerno and his fellow agents, though, is capturing the bad guy.