The city Sheriff's Department early today sent a Happy Mother's Day message to 110 people in Baltimore who are delinquent in their child support payments.
Sheriff's deputies began executing warrants for parents who have been tardy or negligent in their payment of child support fees. Twenty-nine people had been picked up by noon.
The two-day sweep, dubbed Operation Mother's Day, will conclude by Monday. Officials would not disclose when they will make their next round of arrests to avoid tipping off offenders.
"If you've got a warrant out for you, then we're going to try and get you, whether you owe a little or a lot," said Sheriff John Anderson.
The sheriff's office has a list of 110 people who have been targeted for lack of child support payments. Included in the 29 people arrested is one man who owed more than $10,000 in late child support payments, Mr. Anderson said.
"A lot of mothers out are trying to raise their children as best they can," Mr. Anderson said. "The fathers have walked away from their responsibility."
Those arrested are charged with either non-support, contempt of court or violation of probation.
"It's mostly a matter of getting this resolved pretty quickly and then getting released," Sheriff Anderson said. "We're executing warrants, but the main they want is the money."
Deputies usually make about two or three sweeps a year for child support violators, the sheriff said. However, he added that the list of offenders is still lengthy.
Louis Curry, director of the city Office of Child Support Enforcement, said many of the offenders are hard to find because they often change addresses or live with parents or grandparents.
He said one of the reasons for the effort is to alert the public that lack of child support payments is a continuing problem and that deputies "take it very seriously" in their pursuit of violators. Mr. Curry was with deputies when they began arresting the offenders shortly after 4 a.m. today. "It was pretty good today," he said. "The rain is helping because people aren't outside."
The Baltimore Sheriff's Department set up its child-support enforcement team in 1981, taking advantage of federal funds offered to help force delinquent parents to support their families. Baltimore is home to about 40 percent of the state's child-support cases.
The state Department of Human Resources Department also regularly publishes its "Ten Most Wanted" lists of delinquent parents to stress how seriously it takes child-support delinquency.