The Baltimore Sheriff's Department yesterday sent a Happy Mother's Day message to Baltimoreans who are delinquent in their child-support payments.
At 4 a.m., sheriff's deputies began executing arrest warrants for 110 child support scofflaws. By day's end, 32 deadbeats had been arrested, including one man who owed more than $10,000 in child support, Sheriff John Anderson said.
The sweep, dubbed Operation Mother's Day, will resume early next week.
To avoid tipping off offenders, officials would not disclose when they will make their next round of arrests.
"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 Anderson, adding: "A lot of mothers out there are trying to raise their children as best they can. The fathers have walked away from their responsibility."
The violators were charged with non-support, contempt of court or violation of probation.
Most are given a hearing before a judge soon after their arrest and released. Although the list is largely made up of men, some women are being sought by the deputies.
Deputies usually make about two or three sweeps a year for child-support violators, the sheriff said. But 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 people who fail to pay child support create a nagging problem that is taken "very seriously."
Mr. Curry was with deputies when they began arresting the offenders shortly after 4 a.m. yesterday.
The rain helped because "people aren't outside," he said.
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 also regularly publishes its "Ten Most-Wanted" list of delinquent parents to stress how seriously it takes child-support delinquency.