Midnight raiders arrest over 450 deadbeat parents

November 04, 1994|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Sun Staff Writer

A statewide sweep by sheriffs' deputies early today resulted in the arrests of more than 450 men and women at their homes on warrants charging them with failing to pay child support and ** related offenses.

More than 500 child-support violators were targeted.

The sweep was to continue through the day, and was expected to include places of employment.

As of 8 a.m., 459 violators, who owe more than $1.18 million in child-support payments, had been arrested in Baltimore and in Carroll, Charles, Montgomery, Howard, Prince George's, Calvert and Harford counties.

The sweep, said Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Luther W. Starnes, was the result of a collaboration between the DHR's child-support enforcement administration and local sheriffs' departments.

"We want to get across the message to deadbeat parents that you must take care of your children," the secretary said.

A man arrested in Pasadena was $30,000 behind in child support payments when he was arrested at his home in the 8500 block of Summit Road shortly after midnight.

Dubbed "The Midnight Run," the crackdown, in Baltimore and all 23 counties, was the first such statewide effort and proved very effective, said Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson. His deputies targeted 72 locations in the city and arrested 65 violators before sunrise.

"The courts have given these people every latitude to avoid our knocking on their doors at 3 a.m.," Sheriff Anderson said, "but some people need a little bit of urging to live up to the obligation of being parents."

Fanning out at midnight, deputies armed with arrest warrants and descriptions of their prey arrived at the targeted areas and began knocking on the front doors of houses and apartments.

Once arrested, the subjects were locked up at local police stations or sheriff offices and were to appear today at bail hearings.

Louis Curry, director of the city's child-support enforcement division, described the arrests as "an attention getter."

"We find that when large numbers of arrests are made, the parents who fail to provide support for their children and are afraid of being arrested suddenly show up with their money," he said.

But many of the people targeted today don't take the support of children seriously, he said. "They will now."

Some of those arrested left their homes in nightclothes -- or less.

While no major resistance was reported, there was some salty language heard as those arrested got dressed and were escorted to a van in the glare of TV lights.

Over the past year, said DHR Secretary Starnes, state child-support offices found more than 46,000 absent parents; 10,500 paternities were established and nearly $250 million collected.

However, over $700 million is still owed to Maryland's dependent children, Mr. Starnes said.

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