Child support sweep nets nearly 80

May 13, 1994|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Sun Staff Writer

Nearly 80 people, including nine women, were arrested yesterday morning and early today by Baltimore sheriff's deputies on warrants charging them with failure to pay child support and related offenses.

Sheriff John W. Anderson said the arrests were part of several planned citywide sweeps aimed at forcing delinquent parents to provide support for their children.

"Our goal is to help dependent children get the money they rightfully deserve through court action," said Sheriff Anderson. "It's the children of these people who really suffer."

"We call it enforcing responsibility, said Louis Curry 3rd, director of the Office of Child Support Enforcement, part of the state's Department of Human Resources. Mr. Curry watched some of the deputies make arrests this morning.

Yesterday, 55 people were arrested at their homes, on the job or at places they frequent.

Charging papers were served on an additional 14 men held at the City Detention Center for unrelated criminal charges. By 6 a.m. today, the deputies had arrested nearly a dozen more people and were to continue the sweep into tonight.

Working in teams, the deputies began knocking on doors at 3 a.m. today. They even had to break down a door in the 3000 block of Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown when no one answered.

"That's a heck of an alarm clock," one deputy said.

The 29-year-old man arrested at that house owed some $13,000 in child support, according to deputies.

Sheriff Anderson said those arrested in the two-day sweep owed an average of $3,000 in child support. He said that people owing as much as $30,000 had been taken into custody in previous sweeps.

Once parents are arrested, Sheriff Anderson said, many begin to play what he called "dialing for dollars."

"They make a few phone calls and all of a sudden the money that's been out there for years and not paid suddenly shows up" he said.

Sheriff Anderson said cases of long-term delinquency are often reviewed by the Office of Child Support Enforcement and the sheriff's office. Sweeps such as yesterday's and today's bring a large number of arrests three or four times a year, he said.

"We do mini-sweeps fairly regularly," he said, "but when cases jump out at you, then we go out and knock on doors all over the city before the sun comes up.

Sheriff Anderson said that sometimes arrests are made after his of fice receives information from confidential sources about where a delinquent parent can be found.

"We have a pretty good information network, together with deputies who work hard in tracking down the worse cases of non-support and persons who fail to show up in court to answer non-support charges," Sheriff Anderson said.

Statewide, according to Mr. Curry, some $360 million is owed in non-support payments, with Baltimore accounting for at least 65 percent of the cases.

He said that at least 6,000 cases are added each year in Maryland and that Baltimore City currently has more than 110,000 non-support cases.

"When word gets out about the sweeps, my phone will ring off the hook with people giving us information about where delinquent parents can be found," Mr. Curry said.

The sweeps were funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Sheriff Anderson said. For every arrest, the department kicks in $245 to the city's general fund, Sheriff Anderson said.

"We made a lot of money over the past two nights," the sheriff said. "We get their attention real fast when we wake them up at 3 a.m. or take them off the job."

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