Sheriffs in Louisiana Using Ads to Nab Offenders

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The Caddo Parish sheriff says he’s had great success naming names to get wanted people to turn themselves in, pay tickets, and otherwise deal with outstanding warrants. Now the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office is trying the same thing.

“We’re like Caddo. We’ve got a lot more than we can put in there,” Lt. Tom Hargrove of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office warrants division said Wednesday.

He said he had just picked up proofs for a four-page spread scheduled for Sunday’s News-Star of Monroe, a daily newspaper. About 100 people have paid fines or otherwise dealt with warrants in the weeks since plans for the ad were announced, Hargrove said.

Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator bought a two-page ad a month ago in the May 22 edition of Times of Shreveport, listing the names of 2,000 people with outstanding warrants. Since then, he said Wednesday, his office has logged 3,500 calls ? some from as far off as California and Tennessee ? about warrants.

He said he has cleared 1,040 warrants, six times the usual one-month total. One man came with his preacher to turn himself in. Others were turned in by family members.

“Some people didn’t know they had outstanding warrants until their names appeared. Others have been dodging their responsibility for years,” Prator said. “Our goal was simply to reduce the stack of papers on file in our warrants office. By enlisting the support of the community, we were able to do just that.”

He said the sheriff’s office has closed files on cases involving everything from traffic violations to child support to armed robbery, and he is continuing to send names and some photographs to the Inquisitor each week. The Inquisitor is a weekly newspaper published in Shreveport.

Prator used money from his office and a federal program to place the ad in the Times on May 22. The Inquisitor has published more names each week since then as a public service, according to a news release from the sheriff.

That paper’s most recent issue noted, in inch-high red letters on the back page, “Coming Next Week: Sex Offender Warrants From State Probation & Parole; Desoto Parish Warrants; Caddo Deadbeat Parent Warrants.”

The City of Shreveport plans to run a half-page newspaper ad with the names of property standards violators, spokeswoman Liz Swain said.

And the Shreveport City Marshal’s Office has given the Caddo Sheriff’s Office credit for an increase in the number of people settling outstanding city warrants, Prator said.

Hargrove said the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office usually clears 200 to 225 warrants a month. “I would like to think we would kick ours up” once the ad appears, he said. “Right now, I haven’t got a clue what it’s going to do.”

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