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Cadiz police to hold warrant amnesty

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

People with outstanding warrants or summonses in Trigg County courts can turn themselves in without going to jail next week, Cadiz police say.

The department, in cooperation with the Trigg district and circuit courts, will hold the county's first warrant amnesty period Wednesday through Friday. Charges won't be dismissed, but people with outstanding Trigg County warrants who turn themselves in during those days will be released with a court date. They won't have to go to jail or post bond.

People with active warrants and summones must go to the Cadiz Police Department between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. one of those days to be served their court papers.

One of the officers overseeing the program, Sgt. Scott Brown, said the idea for the amnesty period came from similar programs Cadiz police knew about in other Kentucky counties.

Brown said one program that inspired the Trigg County project was conducted about six years ago in Christian County. In that program, Brown explained, people with outstanding child support who arrived in court with a check in tow could have their warrants changed to summonses.

"We've noticed just a growing list of warrants and summonses in (Trigg) County," Brown said. "The police department has tried to be proactive in trying to get those papers served, and we feel like this program is another way to accomplish that."

Kentucky's e-warrant system contained 581 active warrants and summonses out of Trigg County as of Tuesday, according to Cadiz police. Brown said that number represents a decrease from last year when the number was well over 600.

Brown said that was probably the highest number of active warrants and summonses the county has ever seen, and the department sees the amnesty period as another step in continuing to lower that number.

The department estimates three-fourths of the active warrants are for people who failed to show up for court or to pay their court fine. Brown said some of the active warrants are for people who paid their fines, but didn't fulfill other aspects of their sentences. Others are for folks who showed up for arraignments but never went back to court.

He said the department works to find people with active warrants, but tracking them down can be difficult if the warrant is for someone who lives in another state or if the department doesn't have a local resident's current address.

"One area we've really focused on in the last year is locating people wanted for child support and bad checks, because bad checks really affect our businesses," Brown said.

He said 22 of the warrants are for people with outstanding child support payments, and several are for people who wrote bad checks.

"We're hoping this amnesty period will allow them to come forward and complete that," Brown said.

Brown said the police department is pleased that all Trigg County judges and prosecutors support the amnesty period and share the department's goals, which he said are to help people do their civic duty and complete the legal process and get people off the warrant list.

"I honestly don't know what to expect," Brown said about participation in next week's project. "We just want people to know this isn't a ruse...(We're) not using it as a way to be dishonest and take people to jail."

He does expect to receive calls during the amnesty period letting the department know about people on the list who live outside Kentucky. He said the department will continue its normal procedures for following up on warrants and summonses of people who choose not to turn themselves in.

"Even if just one person shows up, that's one less person who's in the system as having a warrant or summons," Brown said.

On Monday, the police department will issue a list of people with active warrants and summonses online at http://cadizpolice.com. The Cadiz Record will also publish the list Wednesday.

In its announcement Thursday, the police department listed the following parameters for the amnesty period:

n The only court papers eligible for the amnesty period are those that occurred in Trigg County. If a person has outstanding warrants in other counties, police are obligated to arrest that person for those warrants.

n Not all warrants and summonses list identifiers such as dates of birth, and people who see their name on the warrants list can contact Cadiz police to verify whether they match the information on the warrant.

n Participants must take their most recent photo ID to the police department before they can be served papers.

n People don't need to take multiple family members with them to the police department while being served.

n When the amnesty period ends - at 6 p.m. on April 25 - all Trigg County warrants become active again, and those people are subject to arrest. People are also subject to arrest if another police agency makes contact with them during the amnesty period.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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