I think everyone in the collections and recovery industry had a little apprehension that justice might not be served in Monday’s jury verdict on the murder of Brandon Thomas and shooting of Willie Thackston by reported ex-con Justin Moore. There was ample reason to fear that a jury could take the low road and find him innocent or that the judge would be lenient. We’ve all seen such things happen a thousand times before. In light of the public image of the collections and recovery industry provided by Hollywood and the press in recent years, there was a sincere danger that the jury could have seen the victims in a harsher light as the defense tried to present them.
This public image is one the inherent dangers to not only the recovery industry but the collections industry when we are perceived by the public, the press and the judicial system as Elizabeth Warren, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defined her view of the collections and recovery industry as “the new Wild West – Shoot First and don’t ask any questions-ever.” While this may seem to some collectors as a recovery relevant issue, never forget the shooting rampage of a Jacksonville, Florida GMAC auto finance department in 1990. This event could and very well might reoccur if public perceptions of our industry remain as they are.
I can only hope that this serves as a cautionary tale to the public and that those with a lack of self accountability for their own actions and character who see us all as harassing telemarketing scam artists and front yard midnight lawn wrestlers. Perhaps this verdict might actually save some lives on both sides of the wheel lift and phone. There should be no sympathy for persons of such low character that believe we deserve death and injury. They all deserve the ramifications of their own actions and society must see this example set.
I would hope that all of us in the collections and recovery industry can see the potential precedent of our diminished public image and the damage it could serve in the future if the public seriously believed the negative imagery. Maybe it is time we all worked a little harder on improving our public images through new alliances, consolidation of organizations and accreditation forged with strong lobbying for State and Federal mandates upon our industries. Never forget that Dentistry used to be performed by barbers until the late 1800’s. The American Dental Association wasn’t even founded until 1959. Perhaps we should begin to look at our industries as more of a craft and push to drive out the unskilled companies that undermine our credibility.
While I am sure the verdict provided some closure for the Brandy Thomas and Brandon’s family, the scars of this tragedy will live on a lifetime for not only the Thomas’s but for Wille Thackston and his family. They all desrve the anger they have and no one has a right to blame them. I would drag myself into prison or hell in the hopes I could finish the justice if it were my son or loved one murdered like this. As for Justin Moore’s family, they too are and have been suffering. I lay no judgment on them as but for the grace of God, I too could find myself seated on the defendants side of the courtroom if for no other reason but for the loyalty and love of family. Justin Moore has no one to blame for all of this but himself. I have no sympathy for him. No one that survives an incident like this goes unscathed. I pray for the healing of all of those involved in this tragedy and that lessons are learned.