POSTED: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 5:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 5:20pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — If you have an unpaid traffic ticket, or you missed a court date, you could end up behind bars. That’s because law enforcement agencies are cracking down on misdemeanor crimes.
Mayor Pro-Tem, Mike Walker, watches the number of outstanding warrants in East Baton Rouge Parish, pile up.
“People just thumb their nose at the law, and think that, well, nobody’s going to call me or the police are not going to be able to verify that I’ve got 10 warrants against me,” he explains.
Traffic court violations make up about 70% of that stack. When you add in some of the more ominous crimes, like assault, domestic violence, and DWI’s, the total number of outstanding arrest warrants in the city is more than 100,000. Officials estimate that the total cost to the city is somewhere in the millions.
“It would make a difference in the budget right now, at a time when budgets are real tight,” says City Constable, Reginald Brown.
That’s why law enforcement agencies are teaming up and cracking down. The city jail will now be used to house individuals who commit misdemeanor crimes, and the Warrants Division will run 24 hours a day, around the clock.
“If a police officer verifies that you have an arrest warrant, they’re going to bring you downtown and put your butt in jail where you belong,” says Walker.
The idea, a collaboration between the sheriff’s office, the Constable’s office, and District Attorney Hillar Moore, is meant to fight those minor crimes before they get worse.
“Those misdemeanors, they don’t go anywhere,” says Brown. “But it sends the wrong message to the streets. Sometimes, those crimes escalate. You can go from domestic violence to murder.”
Walker says the cost to run the jail is about $1.2 million. He hopes it will be used for misdemeanors permanently.
Do you think you might have a warrant out for your arrest? Call the District Attorney’s office at (225) 389-3400 or check it out for yourself online. http://brgov.com/dept/citycourt/warrants/