|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
County, Onalaska & Tribal PD join AG's Office for Child Support Roundup
LIVINGSTON – On April 23, the Texas Attorney General's Office initiated a warrant roundup in Polk County to apprehend persons wanted for non-payment of child support. The operation was headed by deputies from the Polk County Sheriff's Office with the assistance of Onalaska Police Department, the Alabama- Coushatta Tribal Police Department, Polk County Emergency Management and the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office. The operation had a goal of arresting 14 targeted suspects with an outstanding balance of $500,000 in back child support. Some of the targets were listed as possible residents of Polk County but wanted out of other counties. Eleven targets were apprehended as a result of the roundup. The Polk County Sheriff's Office considers this roundup to be a success and wants to thank all those involved for their help. Child Support Division investigators aided the sheriff by providing logistical assistance to locate missing parents. "Parents have a moral and legal obligation to make regular child support payments," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. "By collecting child support, we are ensuring young Texans have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong. We are grateful to Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, Onalaska Police Chief Ron Gilbert and Alabama-Coushatta Police Chief Antonio L. Ford and Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts for their unfailing commitment to Texas children." Tuesday's sweep targeted parents who were wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to pay child support. After holding a 4 a.m. briefing, Sheriff Hammack dispatched five teams of law enforcement officers to locate and arrest the non compliant parents before they had a chance to leave their homes for the day. Tuesday's roundup resulted in the arrest of 11 parents whose failure to support their children violated the law. A total of 21 parents — including 11 from Tuesday's effort — have been arrested since the beginning of March, when the roundup preparation began. Delinquent parents arrested on civil warrants face up to six months in jail. Cash bonds posted by delinquent parents seeking release from jail are paid to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support. To avoid the embarrassment of arrest at home or work, parents with child support warrants should contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments — but are not subject to warrants for their arrest — should immediately contact the Attorney General's Child Support Division at 800-252-8014 to make payment arrangements. Under state and federal law, the Office of the Attorney General can assist families who request child support services and must serve families who currently receive or have received public assistance. Services offered by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments. Statewide, child support collected by the Office of the Attorney General exceeded $3.4 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2012. The child support office that covers Polk and five surrounding counties collected $47 million of that amount. Hammack said the roundup operation began with 24 cases. "Ten cases were cleared before we started the roundup this morning," Hammack said. A 12th individual called and said he would be at court in the morning. The parents arrested are being held in connection with a total of $426,205.82 in back child support in Polk County alone." "As promised, we don't allow anybody to abscond on the reservation," Tribal Police Chief Antonio Ford said. "We're committed to public safety and working collaboratively with everybody in the region." Ford worked on one of the five teams that worked throughout the county. Onalaska Police Officers Paige Saunders and Forest Tooley participated in the early morning roundup, Chief Ron Gilbert said.