New 'Hot Sheet' helping round up offenders

Durham Hot Sheet

February 23, 2011 7:48:31 PM PST
Durham city leaders are touting a recent drop in crime.

However, some serious offenders are still walking free because of a significant backlog of "unserved warrants."

Budget cuts have reduced warrant squads to just a few officers who are responsible for tracking down numerous people.

The ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team has learned that police are cracking down using "embarrassment" and cash rewards to convince people to turn themselves in.

"We can't do it without the citizens," Officer Jessica Butler, DPD warrant officer, said.

Butler says offenders with outstanding warrants are hiding and refusing to turn themselves in. It's a frustrating situation for warrant officers.

"A lot of what you deal with are bad addresses, old addresses and that's frustrating when you're going to knock on doors over and over again," Butler said. "It's really just not very efficient."

But the new "Bull City Hot Sheet" is efficient. It's coming to a convenience store, public building or business near you.

Like a super model of a different kind, offenders with the most outstanding warrants grace the cover. Inside are dozens of mug shots of wanted felons, even absconders who've violated their probation, and it's free.

"This is something that the stores want because a lot of these people come in the stores and they'll see their selves," Captain Dock Culver, DPD warrant officer, said.

Felony warrants are printed in red and on the backside of the publication is a list of backlog warrants for people who have eluded police for months -- even years.

Police say a good tip could turn into Crimestoppers cash.

"It's already working," Butler said.

What good crime fighting can't do perhaps embarrassment will. A test run of the hot sheet has netted dozens of offenders.

Serving and processing warrants can be a lengthy process at the Durham County Jail, but a recent test run of the hot sheet has gotten attention and warrant officers back on the street faster.

"So many are turning their selves in," Culver said.

With just four warrant squad members, Durham police have served 5,000 warrants since July. More than 500 warrants were served this month alone. The hope is the "Bull City Hot Sheet" will increase those numbers while making offenders think twice about hiding from the law.

"I want you to feel embarrassed, and I want you to feel that you need to turn yourself in right away," Butler said.

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