by: Pat Hernandez, February 16, 2009 10:02:23 pm
The 10-day warrant roundup begins March 7th and will involve local and regional law enforcement agencies. They'll be targeting those who have had at least three to six months to take care of outstanding warrants.
"They may knock on doors at home. They may go to places of business, and I don't believe anybody should be embarrassed just because they owe, or have an outstanding ticket."
Berta Mejia is the presiding judge at Houston Municipal Courts.
"Judicial orders are important, and this is the result, after a long period of time, where jurisdictions get together and say 'enough is enough'. This year, the city of Houston is not offering an amnesty program, per say, because I know we're going to get a lot of calls, 'Are you offering amnesty?' We are not at this time. So we encourage everyone to please come in and address their tickets."
Officer Andy Kerstens is with the Webster Police Department. He dispels one rumor about warrants.
"Warrants don't go away. Once you have a warrant out for your arrest, it is valid until it's executed. So, by waiting two or three years, don't think that it'll just go away. It doesn't. Until you're arrested or you pay your fine, you will have that warrant, and you're subject to being arrested at any time, anywhere in the state of Texas."
The city of Houston has sent notices to more than 100-thousand people with outstanding warrants.
JB Zera: "Our goal here is to have people come in and take care of their business, their outstanding warrants, prior to an officer engaging them on the street."
Captain JB Zera with the Houston Police Department says officers will make sure that anyone they're dealing with is not wanted. He says another myth is that motorists who get a ticket in another jurisdiction won't get arrested.
"It's quite common, for people that live outside of Houston to get warrants, and we calls from our partnering agencies in the surrounding area, that hey ' we've come in contact, we've verified this warrant', and then the agencies work together and transport the prisoners from one agency to another, so that the people can take care of those. That's going to be the same situation here."
Last year the city of Houston cleared 36-thousand warrants and collected 2.5-million dollars in unpaid fines. More information on the warrant round up can be found by clicking the 2009 Great Texas Warrant Round Up at www.houstontx.gov/courts.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.