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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Unpaid fines lead to arrests

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

(Photo)
Sgt Todd Peters of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety helps a woman out of a van after arresting her for failure to pay backfines.
SIKESTON -- Sikeston Department of Public Safety officers were busy Monday morning searching for 60 people who had failed to pay their fines owed to the city.

By noon, officers had arrested 20 and three people showed up to pay fines so warrants would not be served. Meanwhile, the municipal court staff was flooded with phone calls from people asking if they needed to have their fines paid to avoid arrest.

"Many of these fines are several years old and if the fines aren't paid then it is as good as getting away with committing a crime," said Sikeston DPS Director Drew Juden. "Some of the people I'm sure may have forgotten about the fines, but after the wakeup calls (Monday) morning they seemed to remember. Which is why they started calling in after officers starting knocking on their doors with arrest warrants in hand."

Sgt. Todd Peters, Sgt. Ricky Rapert and D.A.R.E. officer Shirley Porter spent about two weeks putting all the paperwork together for the roundup. Many of the offenders are currently serving time in the Missouri Department of Corrections and are being sent letters advising them of their fines owed the city.

Juden also said officers were armed with current warrant lists from the Scott and Mississippi County sheriff's departments for offenders possibly in the Sikeston area. Several of those arrested were for the county warrants and were quickly sent to the respective county of jurisdiction. Mississippi County provided their 30-passenger transport van to take prisoners to other counties to be housed pending the payment of their fines.

All of the arrests made Monday were without incident with the exception of one where a suspect took off running but was quickly apprehended by officers.

Juden said while contempt of court is not the most sinister crime in the city, the problem has continued for a number of years prompting this action.

"It's pretty much like taking out a loan at a bank and not paying the money back, interest or principle," Juden said. "Not very many businesses could stay in business if this was their attitude.

"This is really just the tip of the iceberg as we plan on getting these things taken care of and enforcement of these warrants will continue until the message gets out and people get these fines taken care of."