Fort Worth will be part of a statewide effort to arrest people with outstanding warrants from unpaid speeding tickets and other violations starting this weekend, according to a press release from the City of Fort Worth. However parking violations issued by campus police would not be included in the effort, said TCU Police Lt. Ramiro Abad.
The Great Texas Warrant Roundup will be from March 5-12, according to the release. The release also noted law enforcement officials will increase their efforts to find and apprehend people who have warrants.
Jesse Hernandez, Fort Worth’s city marshal, said the marshal’s office will step up endeavors to serve warrants in the city.
“This is a concentrated effort on Class C misdemeanor warrants, primarily traffic fine warrants,” he said.
Hernandez said the focus also included city code violations warrants, such as having a dog not on a leash or illegal dumping of trash. However, warrants are not being issued for unpaid parking tickets because they are classified as below a Class C misdemeanor.
Hernandez said law enforcement officials around the state were employing different strategies to serve the warrants.
“Here in Fort Worth, for example, in the marshal’s office I have twenty deputies that on a daily basis go out and serve warrants,” Hernandez said. He said other, smaller regions around Texas might have fewer resources with which to deal with the warrant sweep. In the past, towns with only one or two marshals have teamed up with local police departments to increase success rates.
Even people who have moved or received a ticket in a town they are not a resident of can still be arrested, Hernandez said. Neighboring cities and jurisdictions swap information to have the most up-to-date information about the whereabouts of suspects, he added.
“There’s a redoubled effort to find these folks,” Hernandez said. “The chances of getting caught are greater during this time period.”
Hernandez said the goal was to get people with outstanding warrants to just pay the fines, rather than risk the hassle of being tracked down by city marshals.
“We’re hoping that if people learn we’re out there even more vigorously looking for them, that they will come in and take care of their business with the court,” Hernandez said. “Ultimately that is the best approach, because if we find them out in the street we’re going to arrest them. If we arrest them, chances are we’re going to impound their vehicle, so then they’re going to be inconvenienced, they’re going to go to jail, they’re going to have to pay the money to get out and then they’re going to have to pay money to get their vehicles out as well.”
Freshman pre-business major DeShay Hazzard said arresting people for unpaid speeding tickets was an overreaction on the part of the marshal’s office.
“People should be more responsible about taking care of stuff like that, but not where they need to go out and find them and take them to jail,” Hazzard said.
Hazzard said police efforts would be better spent pursuing people who have committed more serious crimes.
“They could be finding…child molesters and rapists, and take them to jail,” she said.
Freshman political science and history double major Christian Lueck said he thought the roundup was a good idea.
“If you have a ticket and you don’t pay it, that’s not right,” Lueck said. “I consider that stealing.”
Lueck said he had never received a speeding ticket but that if it happened, he would pay immediately rather than face the wrath of local law enforcement.
Fort Worth residents can check if they have a warrant by visiting fortworthgov.org/applications/warrantsonline. People with a warrant are encouraged to contact the municipal court in which the citation was issued to pay their fines immediately.