Saltillo begins push to collect fines

SALTILLO – In an effort to collect more than $400,000 in outstanding municipal court fines, Saltillo will begin publishing the names of everyone who has an active warrant with the city.
The Saltillo Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to pass a law that allows the police department and court clerk to maintain an active warrant list and publish that list in print media, radio, television, social websites and post it at City Hall.
Saltillo Police Chief Steve Brooks said he aims to have a list of active warrants posted at City Hall by Friday so people can check to see if they owe the city money.
“We would like for the public to come by City Hall and look at the list, there may be a family member or friend,” Brooks said. “If you owe the city money you can come take care of it. We understand times are hard. If you come by we can work out a payment plan.”
Brooks said 30 days after the list is posted, the city will begin publishing the names of people with active warrants on Facebook and the city’s website.
“We’re going to do everything we can to collect money owed to the city,” Brooks said.
The new policy is modeled after a policy West Point implemented in September. Since September, West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said the city has collected $213,510 in fines.
“Normally fine collections are nowhere near that,” Brinkley said. “We tried collection agencies and a warrant team. Nothing has been more effective.”
The West Point Police Department publishes 30 random names from the warrant list each week and then focuses on serving warrants to those individuals.
“We had over 1,600 active warrants to begin with and it has been cut by more than half,” Brinkley said.
The postings will include the name of the offender, their address, date of birth, offense and outstanding fine.
When someone’s court fine goes into delinquency, their driver’s license is suspended and a warrant filed for their arrest. Anyone who has not paid the fine can be arrested for contempt of court and can be ticketed for driving with a suspended license, which carries additional fines.
jb.clark@journalinc.com