Sheriff’s office personnel served 205 people with 352 warrants in an effort to catch up with a growing number of warrants coming in and a shortage of manpower to serve them. Sheriff Terry Langley said in a perfect world, his office would have a six-person team to serve warrants full-time.
“We serve some warrants every day,” he said. “Because of the volume of warrants coming in, we need about a six-man team.”
Although deputies on patrol serve some warrants, most warrants are the duty of the county division. But an increase in court proceedings, as well as having to hold court in overflow courtrooms, has led to a warrant backlog.
“Because of the demands of court, in three or four buildings, we don’t have the manpower to serve warrants,” Langley said. “This is a good way to catch up periodically when we fall behind.”
The sheriff’s office had their first warrant roundup in April 2007, and Langley said there will be more.
“Maybe someday we’ll have a courthouse with all the courtrooms in one building. But while the debate goes on, we’ll continue to do our job,” he said, noting that they would likely do another roundup.
“I don’t see a change in court or the demand for service,” he said.
Of the warrants served this week 27 were for back child support (totaling $308,798), 98 were for violations of probation and 27 were bench warrants. Some of the people arrested did not have warrants, but were allegedly committing illegal activities when deputies came to serve someone else in the house.
“In one house they went into to do an arrest, two people had cocaine in their pockets,” Langley said. “There was one house where someone, not who they were going to get, was flushing marijuana down the commode.”
In all, 37 new charges came from the warrant roundup. Langley said most were drug or obstruction of an officer charges.
Bringing 205 people into the jail put some strain on staff and facilities, he said.
“At one point the population in our jail was up about 100 people,” Langley said. “We haven’t met capacity, but we probably got close. We were mindful of that.”
Because some warrants were from other counties and many of the people who were arrested made bond, not everyone brought in was housed in the Carroll County jail.
“There were a lot of people transferred to other counties,” Langley said. “I’d say about 40 percent of the people were eligible for bond.”
Regular patrols continued during the roundup, meaning even more inmates were being brought into the jail. To help with booking, Langley said extra jailors were brought in and a temporary booking station was set up in the sheriff’s office for people being brought in on warrants. Warrant radio traffic was also kept on a separate frequency so 911 calls could get through to deputies on patrol.
During the week, some overtime was used, Langley said, but court services deputies were also available to serve warrants.
Investigator Telisha Gibson, who injured her hand during a struggle with a suspect, was the only officer to be hurt during the warrant roundup. Langley said officer safety was something that was planned beforehand.
“You’re hunting for people that don’t want to go to jail,” he said. “I always worry about officers getting hurt or officers having to hurt someone.”