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Warrants arrests over 500 for '19

By Michael Butler

We are halfway through the 2019 calendar year, and there have already been over 500 warrants served by the Tallassee Police Department. The number might seem large for a city with a population under 5,000, but warrant arrests are common everywhere.

More than 80 percent of the TPD's warrant arrests were classified as misdemeanors. Tallassee Police Chief Matthew Higgins explained.

"If it's an upaid ticket it becomes a warrant," Higgins said. "If you get a speeding ticket, you never go to court, you never pay your fine - it becomes a warrant. Sometimes when you see that, you think we've got all this crime. It could be a person with four or five unpaid traffic tickets. That's four or five warrants. If you see 400 warrant arrests, it's not like we arrested 400 people."

Higgins said the numbers appear escalated due to the number of arrests that come with multiple warrants per offender.

"It may seem greater than it is. It's also a product of us being full as a police department. We're able to make more stops, run some details and get out here and serve some of these warrants that have been backed up or outstanding. When you're short-staffed, you're chasing calls. Just because we're a small agency doesn't mean that the call volume isn't big."

Higgins noted that when a person is pulled over on a routine traffic stop that they are rarely surprised when the warrant is executed.

"More often that not, people know it. They're just hoping that it never catches up to them."

Regardless, some decide to avoid their court date and inevitably have a warrant for their arrest.

"It's been my experience, that if you'll at least show up and explain your situation, you may get some kind of payment option or payment plan. If you don't show up, it's going to turn into a warrant. You're going to get a failure to appear. You never know when that next driver's license checkpoint is around the corner."