Bringing a wanted fugitive to church in handcuffs is not exactly traditional, David Regan admits.
But if it’s the last place that person goes before being sent to the slammer, perhaps tradition should be broken a little more often.
Bail agents Regan and Lew Ervin were at Faith Center Church about half an hour before the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service Nov. 11 when Regan got the call to arrest Scott Irvin.
The 25-year-old was wanted for jumping bail. He failed to appear at a court sentencing hearing for burglarizing a house in Salmon Creek back in February.
An informant said Irvin would be waiting for a ride outside an apartment complex at Northeast 49th Street and 112th Avenue in Vancouver, where he sometimes stayed.
Regan and Lew Ervin left church in Regan’s truck and parked at the Shell station across the street from the apartment complex. They bought a couple of pizza pockets and sat in a booth in the gas station, where they had a clear view of the apartments.
Vancouver police patrolled the area in case something went awry during the arrest. But Regan, he said, had a feeling they would find this man and it would all turn out OK.
About 10 minutes later, Irvin walked out of the apartment complex wearing all black and a black backpack. Regan walked out of the gas station to make sure it was him. They said “hi” to each other as they passed.
That’s him, Regan radioed to Lew Ervin.
They jogged after Irvin, who had walked north into an open field. They pulled out their badges and yelled for Irvin to get down on the ground. They handcuffed him and brought him to Regan’s truck.
When they patted down Irvin, they found syringes and a tie-off, typically used to inject drugs. In his backpack were burglary tools: filed down keys and pliers, along with coat hangers.
Then, they started to talk.
“I will never forget him because he was pretty brutally honest,” Regan said.
Irvin said he felt guilty when his brother hanged himself years ago. Why hadn’t he been able to stop it? Why hadn’t he done something? He fell into heroin to ease the stinging regret, and stole to feed his habit.
He knew he was a wanted felon. He knew he needed to turn himself in. Irvin said his girlfriend was pregnant and he wanted to serve his sentence after she had the baby.
Irvin’s biggest fear, he said, was that he would be a bad father. He worried he wouldn’t be around and his choices would rub off on his child, who would lead a similar criminal life on the street.
Serve your time, change your ways and get out while your kid is still young, Regan advised.
And then, their drive en route to the Clark County Jail took a detour.
Would you want to go to church with us? Regan asked. They could still make the end of the service.
I would love to, Irvin said.
Back at Faith Center on Northeast 117th Avenue, they handcuffed Irvin in front and wrapped his jacket around his hands to conceal the handcuffs.
Don’t try anything, they warned him; somehow, though, they knew this candid young man wouldn’t stir trouble.
How to be a good parent.
As Pastor Glen Johnson spoke of breaking the generation curse and leading a good life for your children and your children’s children, Irvin started to cry.
The pastor’s message felt like so much more than coincidence.
Irvin cried throughout the sermon, cried during communion and cried as five members of the church — who had served their prison time and recovered from drug addiction — prayed over him.
“He needed to experience that,” Regan said.
Regan and Lew Ervin took him to Wendy’s for a couple of chicken burgers and a Frosty. Then, they dropped him off at the Clark County Jail.
Irvin thanked Regan and Lew Ervin.
“I’m not a bad guy,” he said. “I’m trying.”
Irvin is serving 43 months for bail jumping and 60 months for residential burglary at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.
Regan has been a bail enforcement agent for 12 years and is the owner of Regan Bail Bonds. He says he’s arresting more and more drug-addicted youth younger than 25 who steal to feed their lifestyle.
“These guys will slip up multiple times,” he said.
He finds heroin needles on them and often has to get physical to arrest them. Certain versions of a stun gun prove useless when used on drug addicts, who already have an overloaded nervous system and high pain tolerance, he said.
“A lot of these guys in their heart want to do good, but once that drug enters their body … it brings out a dark side, a dark passenger that they don’t want to be,” Regan said. “We don’t always know what a guy will do when he gets out of jail.”
He’ll arrest them and bail them out of jail again and again. He knows it’s hard. He knows addicts desperately want to avoid the excruciating pain of withdrawal. They’ve already heard that they’re losers, that they’re burdens on society and that people hate them.
“It’s not going to help their life at all,” Regan said.
Instead, he focuses on the notion that maybe, someday, somehow, after fulfilling their sentence and finding help, they’ll get clean and stay clean.
It’s a notion that requires a little leap of faith.