Columbus police start new campaign to collect outstanding fines

January 28, 2011 10:21:00 AM

Ryan Poe - [email protected]


Columbus police teams made four arrests Thursday, a slow start for the city''s three-month campaign to collect misdemeanor court fines. 


The campaign accompanies a Municipal Court amnesty, which runs from Feb. 1 to April 15. The amnesty gives anyone with an outstanding misdemeanor warrant the chance to pay their fines without facing additional court costs. 


But if they do not pay voluntarily, the police will find them and make them pay, said police Public Information Officer Terrie Songer. 


"If we have to come pick you up, you''re going to get the (contempt of court) charge," she said. 


Three six- to eight-member warrant details scoured the city Thursday, but only served 10 warrants in their five-hour shift, Songer said. 


One of the four people arrested, Jimmie Richard, 56, had outstanding warrants for two counts of driving without insurance and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. 


Richard, who was left handicapped after a stroke, said he did not know he had warrants out for his arrest. 


"It surprised me," said Richard, who lives in the 800 block of 21st Street North. He was released on a recognizance bond. 


Police Sgt. Rick Jones, who was in the detail that picked up Richard, said the law had to be upheld. 


"The court system isn''t cold hearted," he emphasized and encouraged people to pay off their fines. 


Although the campaign started off slowly, Songer said it showed that the department had made the right decision in switching to the new warrant-serving system. 


Before, the only way the police department served a misdemeanor warrant was by pulling someone over for a traffic violation, Songer said. 


Now, the department tries to serve warrants "right away," she continued. 


While the department does not have a permanent warrant detail, special units now regularly serve warrants, she said. 


While the amnesty continues, the department will have three teams serving warrants every day, Songer said. 


"We want to get more done so we can get these warrants cleared (out of our system)," she said.