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Roberts Space Industries ®






April 1st 2020

TRACKER: Bounty-less

Sponsored by Titus Universal

You’ve found Tracker, the only stop for news and tips from the Bounty Hunters Guild. I’m your host, Garret Coliga. Let me say, you’re gonna be glad you tuned into this one because we scored quite the catch for today’s guest.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start by congratulating my old friend Quinn Clarkson on the safe apprehension of Kohei ‘Slip’ Benton. Just saw the collar come through the database, and I couldn’t be happier that Quinn was the one to slap the cuffs on Slip. If you’re a long-time listener, then you might remember Slip by his other, more popular name: the “Spectre of Nexus.” That’s right, Slip was the one who’d find ships on the drift, sneak aboard as the crew slept or made major repairs, steal what he could, and disappear before ever being discovered. Whole lotta crews got torn apart by accusations of theft resulting from his break-ins. Once he got ID’d, it was only a matter of time until the Spectre got busted. Since he never killed anybody, Slip basically got a bunch of minor theft charges, so he was locked in one of those Klescher Rehabilitation Facilities. Turns out the ghost still had some tricks up his sleeve, because the thing only held him a year before he mysteriously vanished. Been in the wind damn near a decade. Law enforcement and Advos got nowhere until Quinn clapped the cuffs on him and put him back where he belongs. Hopefully that’s given Klesher enough time to get its act together and make the necessary upgrades to keep a damn-near mystical cat burglar behind bars for good.

I’m really thrilled to see news like that come in, especially on a day like today because it shows how essential bounty hunters are to the safety and security of us all. We know we’re an important cog in the wheel of justice, but some don’t seem so convinced. I think it’s fair to say that our guest today falls in that category.

Emma Thorne is the Deputy Assistant Director of the Advocacy and one of ten candidates still in the running to be the next Imperator. Thorne recently released an extensive policy proposal called Creating a Safer Empire for All (CSEA) and pledged to enact it if elected Imperator. The proposal includes several changes that could significantly impact bounty hunters, including adding limitations to areas of operation, increasing regulations around engaging hostile targets, and even restricting the pursuit of some high-value targets. Ms. Thorne, thanks for joining us today. To be honest, I admire your willingness to walk right into the lion’s den here.

Emma Thorne: Thanks, Garret. Let me just start by saying that I absolutely believe that professional bounty hunters are essential to the UEE’s security.

In fact, our security apparatus depends on it. Not only do bounty hunters help with the apprehension of outlaws, they also act as an excellent crime deterrent. It’s easy for someone considering a criminal act to spot an officer in uniform, but bounty hunters blend in with the civilian population. The Advocacy has studied this and discovered that this anonymity, that fear that anybody could be a bounty hunter, can be a surprisingly effective crime suppression tool.

Well that’s good to hear, but it makes me wonder why your proposed CSEA puts a bunch of new restrictions on bounty hunters. If we’re so essential, then why do you want to limit how we operate?

Emma Thorne: What you need to understand is that the changes I’m proposing are part of a holistic approach to creating a more secure Empire. I’ve been with the Advocacy for three decades and served years in local law enforcement before that, so I have a deep understanding of how all the Empire’s security systems work together. This legislation affects every aspect of it, both public and private, because that’s how we achieve real, meaningful change. Everyone will have to adapt to this new landscape, not just bounty hunters.

Now, I know that change can be disruptive, but I believe that a modernization of this sector is long overdue.

That I can agree with, but the devil’s in the details.

Emma Thorne: Then sure, let’s summon the devil.

Ok, well, you want to add a new classification for criminals that are essentially off limits to bounty hunters.

Emma Thorne: Correct.

The language around why someone would get such a classification is vague, but the offenses that could qualify a criminal for it is quite extensive. They include homicide, armed robbery, treason, terrorism, sentient smuggling… the list goes on and on. Many of these crimes generate premium, high-paying bounties, so reducing their availability to us is concerning. What do you say to those worried that such a classification will make it harder for bounty hunters to make a living?

Emma Thorne: That’s a valid concern, but it’s important to note that if someone commits a crime on that list, they will not automatically earn the special restricted designation. It’s meant for offenders that are either so dangerous that only highly trained law enforcement officials can safely apprehend them without endangering the public good, or, someone—

Wait, isn’t that the exact type of criminal that you’d want as many people pursuing as possible? Why ban highly skilled bounty hunters authorized by the guild from joining the search?

Emma Thorne: Again, this measure would only be put in place for extreme cases. Most of the time the system will work as it currently does, with the guild authorizing qualified bounty hunters to pursue top targets. Now, as I was saying, I believe this designation would be primarily used for criminals that law enforcement need to question in regards to other crimes or connections to criminal organizations.

So if someone is a known member of an outlaw pack, they could be slapped with the designation.

Emma Thorne: Potentially.

Well that certainly opens this up to a whole lot of people.

Emma Thorne: Another way to look at it, if the Advocacy feels that a particular target would be helpful in identifying other targets or aid in ongoing investigations, they could be flagged. This way we would know that every available step is taken to ensure that the target is taken alive.

What’s wrong with issuing a capture-only bounty instead?

Emma Thorne: We all know how chaotic it can get in the field, right? How many times have you gone into a retrieval with the intent of taking someone alive, but the situation had other plans?

Well, yeah, what in the hell are you supposed to do if the target starts shooting?

Emma Thorne: Precisely. I’m not blaming bounty hunters who find themselves in a tough spot and need to fight for their life. No, I wouldn’t expect a bounty hunter to go above and beyond, even putting their own life at risk, to guarantee that the asset was secured alive. It should be reserved for professional law enforcement to take that kind of risk; they have the right training, appropriate non-lethal equipment, and necessary support to either make the arrest or fall back to a safe distance to continue the pursuit.

Despite what you said to start this conversation, I don’t see how anyone could read this proposal and not see it as an attempt to reduce the UEE’s dependence on bounty hunters.

Emma Thorne: That wasn’t the explicit goal of the CSEA, but yes, it will certainly restrict the scope of available bounties.

Wow… well, I appreciate the honesty.

Emma Thorne: Let me be clear here, I did not set out to write a law that disadvantaged bounty hunters. I used my decades of professional experience to reshape the way we protect the UEE and create the best security possible. A cornerstone of that plan is to increase funds for the Advocacy so they can hire, train, and equip more field agents. If we have more agents in the field pursuing criminals, then fewer bounty hunters will be needed.

Have you given any consideration to how many bounty hunters may find themselves out of work because of this?

Emma Thorne: Yes, that’s why a portion of the funds will be allocated to recruit and train those with security experience into the Advocacy or local law enforcement agencies. I don’t want skilled professionals out of work. I want them working with us for the greater good.

Not sure how many folks will take you up on that offer. Let’s just say a lot of us don’t work well with others. Might be what drew us to bounty hunting in the first place.

Emma Thorne: Well, I hope they reconsider.

We need to take a quick commercial break, but don’t go anywhere. There’s plenty more to discuss with Imperator candidate Emma Thorne, including how her proposal to overhaul UEE security may affect when and where bounty hunters can operate. That and more when Tracker returns.

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