Local bondsman has faith in justice system
He’s been on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (the name of his business anyway).
He’s run for El Paso County sheriff. And he’s teamed with Duane “Dog” Chapman on the reality TV show “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
He’s the hardest-working man in the Colorado Springs bail bond business: Bobby Brown.
Brown, 58, started his Bobby Brown Bail Bond and Investigations business here more than 18 years ago.
The former El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy recently made news again when, last month, he handed over a suspect in a murder to the Colorado Springs police.
“I’ve been in and around the 4th Judicial District (which includes El Paso and Teller counties) for 36 years,” Brown said. “I know judges now who used to be deputy district attorneys when I was a cop.”
On the side, Brown runs an investigation business that specializes in unsolved homicides.
He makes enough money at the bond business now that he takes on the cold cases for victims’ families at no charge.
It also helps him keep close to his law enforcement roots.
“I’m very pro-police. That comment will probably cost me some business, but it’s true,” he said.
His first office, a former drive-through liquor store at 4120 S. U.S. Highway 85â/â87, was close enough to the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center that the calls just kept coming in.
“There were times I didn’t go home for three to four days,” said Brown, who touts himself as having started the only 24-hour bail bond business in Colorado Springs.
Now he can bond anyone from jail across the United States and Puerto Rico – for the right price, of course.
His garish yellow office at 506 S. Nevada Ave. – “follow the yellow house to freedom” – is a fixture on the downtown landscape.
“Almost every day someone visits the office and wants to take a picture in front of it because they’ve seen it on TV,” Brown said. “Being a celebrity is not bad at all. It’s great for business.”
Question: What’s it take to make a successful bondsman?
Answer: We catch them all. We would not be in this business for more than 18 years if we didn’t. Some people honestly make a mistake and miss their court date.
But others just take off thinking they can get away. Like that Dog book there: “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.” The (Internet) databases we can use to find people now are incredible.
Q: Is an economic slump like we’re in now good or bad for the bond business?
A: People will always buy alcohol, makeup and not sit in jail. Even in the bad times, we try to write the best bond we can, so the economy hasn’t really affected me. If a guy can’t afford to get out of jail, I don’t want that bond anyway.
Q: How can a former cop feel good about getting alleged criminals out of jail?
A: I took a tremendous amount of criticism from my law enforcement friends when I first started in the business. “How could you go from putting people in jail to getting them out?” they would ask me. Look, people are innocent until proven guilty.
If I judged everyone on the charges they were in jail on, I wouldn’t have a business.
People have a right to bond, and I have to assume they’re innocent. That said, I would have a real hard time bonding anyone charged with killing, or attempting to kill, a cop. I don’t want those. … The fact is, I believe in our system very much.
Q: Do you have plans for your own reality show?
A: For the past year, I’ve been working on the possibility. … Not as a bounty hunter, but on cold cases and how I investigate them. The network is very interested and we’ve shot four pilot episodes.
Q: What’s with the name? Why not Robert or Bob?
A: I’ve always been called Bobby my whole life. When I first started, I was thinking of all these catchy names, like One Hour Instant Out. But this is also about the time the singers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were on top of their game, so I just went with it. No one has ever called me Robert.
(Brown’s Web site still features the 2004 “Tonight Show” clip when Leno held up a copy of Brown’s yellow pages ad on his “Headlines” segment shortly after one of singer Bobby Brown’s drug arrests. “It looks like Whitney’s husband has eliminated the middleman,” Leno quipped. “Yessirree, Bob. I’m in jail so much I started my own business.”)
Questions and answers are edited for space and clarity.