Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 27, 2012

Sheriff’s department seeks public help with outstanding warrants

Staff Writer
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Mercer County’s deputies face a long list of outstanding warrants that need to be served on top of their many other duties, so the sheriff’s department is asking for the public’s help.

“We have 2,000 outstanding warrants,” said Lt. Joe Parks of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. “Some of them go back five to 10 years. A lot of the warrants are for no shows for court.”

To help clear warrants, the names and, on some occasions, photos of people with outstanding warrants will be published weekly in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Many of the warrants are for misdemeanor offenses, and not all of them were generated by Mercer County’s courts, Parks said. Warrants issued in the Virginia counties of Tazewell and Giles are also on the list.

Some warrants are cleared, but new ones are constantly being added to the list. Besides serving warrants, the department has patrols and other duties to perform, he said.

“We could empty the entire sheriff’s department to do warrants, but we have a lot of other law enforcement tasks to do,” Parks said.

In many cases, people on the warrants list become harder to locate when they move and change their address. There are also instances when people on the list do not know that a warrant has been issued for them, Parks said.

“A lot of people are honest, and they’ll turn themselves in once they realize there’s a warrant out. We’re going to get those as well,” he said. “They might have closed a checking account and didn’t realize there were some checks outstanding.”

In more serious cases involving felonies, the warrants are for people on probation in other states. They travel to other states to avoid detection.

“That’s the biggest target out there,”  Parks said. “These types are more evasive.”

As old warrants are cleared, new ones are added to the list.

“It’s a never ending cycle,” Parks said.

A list of those wanted on warrants will be running every Sunday in the Daily Telegraph, said Editor Samantha Perry.

“We are excited to be working with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department on this project,” she said. “We are always willing to help our law enforcement agencies in any way we can.”

Perry said she hopes the public will participate in the project and help reduce Mercer County’s backlog of outstanding warrants.