Don’t learn the wrong lesson

R.E. “Scott” MacLean
July 9, 2018

My stories from the road are not about myself. They are about the many people that I have worked with over the years, our adventures, lessons, failures, fears and success.

We received a file from a female bondsperson on an individual with 10 warrants from Prince George’s County, MD. The subject was determined to be in Washington State and our traveling road show headed west. Myself and Frank Humphries landed at SeaTac Airport and picked up a rental car. We did some preliminary checks on the 3 addresses we developed and located him, wearing his pajamas, and watching television. We decided to get some sleep and return at 0 dark thirty the following morning.

We returned and picked up the defendant with minimal effort after some token posturing on his part. Now we had to figure out how to get the rental car returned, buy return flights for our skip as well as us, and navigate an airport with a guy in hand cuffs. The defendant asked us how we were taking him home, and we said by airplane. The subject protested, stating he was afraid to fly. I asked him how he got to the west coast, he said by train! I responded that we have a rental car and that is cool, you see my partner had never been to the west coast and wanted to put his feet in the Pacific Ocean, drive to California and see the cars that bounce, and stop by the Grand Canyon. The defendant said That is cool, I want to do all of that too! We told him no, he would be in the trunk, but not to worry, we will keep putting bags of ice in the trunk because it lets off oxygen when it melts, and the melting water would dilute his pee, so he wont be too uncomfortable, or he could be home tonight. He agreed to fly!

When you fly a fugitive, there are FAA guidelines that must be followed, which include specific seating on the plane. You can follow all of the rules and the pilot, who has final say, can still refuse to allow you on his aircraft. I called the airport and asked if they had a detention cell, they responded yes, do you have a reservation? I thought they were being smart, but tentatively answered no. They asked if I wanted one, and I said yes! We were told to park at the departure circle and inform the police officers of our intentions.

We arrived at the airport, were immediately approached, and told we could not park there. We explained our position and the officer made an announcement that nobody was to touch our vehicle. We were escorted to the lower tombs of the airport to a jail cell that showed like a Navy Brig, with many years of paint. The defendant was taken, strip searched and placed in a paper jumpsuit and slippers. An officer escorted us to buy our tickets and we were told that the defendant would be presented back to us at the gate before departure. Wow!

We returned the rental car and sure enough, the defendant was presented to us at the gate. We had a connecting flight in Kansas City, and since we were flying on Southwest Airlines, there was carnival seating. We had to change planes in Kansas City and were met at the gate by police officers, who were aware of our itinerary, took our fugitive, told us to get some rest and he will be brought to the gate for the next leg of the journey. This was welcomed, yet curious, because we did not think to call ahead and make them aware. This was pretty cool!

We boarded the next flight and there were passengers already seated, particularly in the last bulk head to the right, where we are required to sit. We explained to the steward that we needed those seats, and he informed us the seat is obviously taken. We insisted, nodded towards the fugitive and he finally got it. He asked the patron to move, and the obviously inebriated patron gave a protest but agreed to move directly across the aisle.  During the flight he kept glaring at us, and to defuse the situation, gave the steward $5 to buy him a drink, and asked him to quietly explain why he needed to move. He flipped his script and bought us drinks, which we had to refuse, which insulted him, and we were back to square one!

During idle talk with our defendant, our version of a soft exit interview, he explained that his wife has warrants in MD too! I asked what her name was, and he gave it to us. We had her file too but did not put the two together because they had different last names. The defendant asked what day it was, we said Sunday, and he said she is working at the University of Maryland dining hall today! You guessed it! Husband and wife, both apprehended, coast to coast in the same weekend!

In retrospect, we were doing our normal self-critique, asking what we did right, what we did wrong, and what would we never do again. During this review, we were talking about how professionally we were treated, not always the norm for our area of operation. Then it dawned on me. They did not treat us professionally out of respect, they did not want a fleeing fugitive running around their airport endangering passengers! Don’t learn the wrong lesson!

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