The city sent word a little while ago: Beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, the Dallas City Marshal's Office will conduct yet another warrant roundup of "individuals with outstanding arrest warrants for unpaid traffic and non-traffic citations." Happens every spring. If you're so inclined, you can browse the motherlovin' mammoth list of scofflaws -- see if maybe you forgot to pay a traffic ticket way back when.
Seeing as how the warning show up on a semi-regular basis, I've always wondered: How effective are these things, anyhow? Most DPD officers to whom I've spoken about this over the years say the same thing: Not very. About the best the city can hope for is that someone hears there's a round-up a-comin' and opts to pay up before they get locked up ... overnight, usually, if it's over a few hundred bucks. (Which you always have the option to pay once you get taken down to the City Detention Center on Chestnut Street.) One officer recently told me: It's about "creating a little fear and making a little money."
But Chief Deputy Marshal Paul Hansen tells Unfair Park this afternoon that, well, "It all depends on how you look at it." Says Hansen: Last summer's round-up netted 143 arrests over the course of seven days. And while that's a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of those on the city's list, "Warrant round-ups are an all-hands-on-deck approach to making a dent in the number of warrants out there." And: DPD officers have been ordered this weekend to take scofflaws stopped for other violations directly to the detention center, do not pass go.
"We're seeking compliance with the law," Hansen says. "And one of the City Marshal's Office's major duties is to serve warrants. To us, it's really successful. ... From the city's standpoint, I've been told people go in and pay their tickets -- there's a 33 percent increase of people paying their fines when we do these. And we always catch people with higher classification -- we catch people with guns and drugs, and I've personally caught two murder suspects during round-ups.
"I can tell you just from going to the municipal courthouse during the warrant round-ups, the line may be wrapped around the block. We are getting people to comply, and we do have people just turn themselves in."