Holiday amnesty offered in Saline County

Originally Published December 6, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 5, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.
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— The Benton Police Department and the Saline County Sheriff’s Office invite people who have a warrant for their arrest to come in under an amnesty being offered for the holidays.

The offer is open to people who have had a warrant issued for their arrest in Saline County District Count for nonviolent and nonfelony crimes, said Lt. Kevin Russell of the Benton Police Department.

“Anyone who knows or thinks they may have a warrant is encouraged to make contact with the Police Department immediately,” Russell said. “If they have a warrant for failure to appear (for a nonviolent crime), they can come to the Police Department, pay a warrant fee, and they will receive a court date.”

The amnesty was started this year by Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington. It began last Saturday, said Lt. Scott Courtney of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office. By paying the $50 fee and getting a court date, residents with warrants do not run the risk of being picked up over the holidays.

“It would be terrible for someone to be arrested after a traffic stop just a week before Christmas and for them to not be able to get out of jail because they have spent their money for Christmas presents for their children,” Courtney said.

Both deputies and police officers said no officer wants to arrest someone in front of friends or family during the holidays.

“Having to do that can cause some real hard

feelings against the officers and the Sheriff’s Office,” Courtney said.

It is also a way to avoid other automatic charges.

“If someone has failed to appear before the court, their driver’s license has also been suspended,” Russell said. “By contacting us, they may be able to avoid additional fees, such as for impounding their vehicle if they are arrested on a traffic stop.”

Law enforcement officers in Saline County have offered some types of reduced fines or amnesties before and said they have been successful in getting some residents to turn themselves in to authorities.

The Saline County amnesty warrant initiative ends Dec. 31.

“Starting Jan. 1, anybody with a warrant once again will be facing jail time when they are caught, regardless if it’s a nonviolent offense or not,” Russell said. “The amnesty will also not be allowed if they are caught by an officer instead of turning themselves in prior to being apprehended.”

Courtney said anyone with an outstanding warrant may come by the Saline County Sheriff’s Office at 735 S. Neeley St. in Benton or call the office at (501) 303-5642.

Residents with warrants can turn themselves in to Benton police by coming to their offices at the Benton Municipal Complex, 114 S. East St., Suite 100, on the lower level behind the mayor’s office or by calling the Police Department at (501) 776-5948, and paying the warrant fee.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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