The invitation letters have been sent out, now Southaven police and municipal court officials hope those who receive them will take a moment and accept their invitation.
The letters alerted the receivers that there is an active contempt of court warrant against them and they need to come in to take care of it.
The recipients do have the chance of coming in and not being arrested when the city’s Safe Surrender program is again used in cooperation with the city’s Police Department and Municipal Court.
Under Safe Surrender, those who have active warrants can come in on two dates in October: Oct. 7 between 2-6 p.m., or Oct. 11 between 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
They will need to bring with them at least $200 and make arrangements to cover the remaining cost of their fine. In exchange, officials promise no one will be arrested, said Southaven Police Deputy Chief Mark Little.
“This is the eighth or ninth year that we’ve done this, maybe even longer,” Little said. “Our fugitive division works very hard for them to come in and make arrangements to surrender on the warrants. We were finding that a lot of people may not be remembering or may not know there’s a warrant for their arrest, so they didn’t come to court. They’d then be pulled over or were getting stopped and find out there was a warrant.”
Little said the department sent out letters regarding Safe Surrender to as many violators as they had addresses for, but realized that they may not have reached everyone. He encouraged those who may have a question to visit www.municipalrecordsearch.com/southavenms and look up their names to see if there is an active contempt of court warrant.
Southaven Municipal Court Judge David Delgado did caution, however, that Safe Surrender only involves contempt of court warrants.
“If you have a contempt of court warrant, you may have other charges that you may not have cleared in this court,” Delgado pointed out. “Showing up is not amnesty and your old charges are dismissed. That will be up to the prosecution, but the prosecution may be able to at least take into consideration the fact that you surrendered yourself. The contempt of court warrant will be dropped.”
Southaven Police Lt. Alex Fennell added Safe Surrender is meant to be beneficial both to the violator and the legal system. It is not being done as a trap setup.
“This is here to help out other people and we’re not trying to draw people in just to arrest them,” Fennell explained. “This will give some time for them to save enough money to pay their fine and walk out of here of their own free will, not miss work or not miss family time or have their car towed. All that other stuff will start adding up otherwise.”
Little added that in the time that Southaven has used a Safe Surrender program, no one has ever been arrested.
“There are a lot of naysayers who think we are going to trick people to come in and arrest them on the warrant,” Little said. “There are some agencies that have done that in the past, but we decided not to do that. The judges have agreed that this will be a safe surrender. To this day, all the years we have done this, we’ve never arrested anybody who didn’t meet the criteria when they came in and still had a warrant for their arrest.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.