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Time running out to pay overdue Municipal Court fines

 

Allen Baswell

 

There''s just a few weeks left in the city''s amnesty program for outstanding municipal court fines. And officers are still serving warrants. 

 

Luckily -- for those with unpaid fines, that is -- there is still time to pay those fees without the risk of being arrested. 

 

Columbus'' amnesty program, which has been in place since Feb. 1, is scheduled to end on April 30. 

 

According to Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Terrie Songer, to date, 446 warrants have been issued and a total of $356,535.67 has been collected in fines. 

 

Through the program, the city is offering those with overdue court fines the opportunity to pay the fines without penalty even if they already have a warrant because of the outstanding fee. 

 

But the amnesty program is only good for people who go to the Municipal Complex on Main Street to pay their fine. 

 

"If you have an unpaid fine or fines, you need to come to the Municipal building and pay the fine to get amnesty," explained Songer. "You will not have to pay the contempt of court charge. That will be dismissed." 

 

And for those who are not coming forward to pay the fines willingly, two officers have been assigned to serve warrants. 

 

Patrolmen William Thrasher and Robert Walker have been chosen to handle those duties. 

 

And for those looking to evade the officers, there''s no set time for their warrant service. 

 

"We do not set a particular time," said Thrasher. "We can go from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m." 

 

The officers'' first stop is the home address listed on the warrant, which isn''t always fruitful. 

 

"Either they have moved to another address or they''re not at the residence at the time," Walker explained. "Or, they could be there and someone is not telling us." 

 

In those cases, Thrasher and Walker canvas the neighborhood to find out information on that person -- where they work, where relatives live, places they frequent. 

 

"Sometimes we get good cooperation; sometimes we don''t," Walker noted. 

 

But the main goal of the amnesty program, he added, is collecting the fines, not serving warrants or putting people in jail.  

 

"The bottom line is collecting the money from the fines," Walker said. "If these people would make arrangements to come pay the fine, everything will be clear."

 

Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch

 

 

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