Massive roundup targets non-paying parents

Published 8:06 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nearly 200 non-custodial parents who together owe about $4 million in child support are the targets of a major roundup that started early Tuesday morning.

Members of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Bogalusa Police Department, Franklinton Police Department, Rayburn Correctional Center and the offices of Probation and Parole and Child Support all gathered at Bogalusa City Hall at 4 a.m. for a briefing.

The group was then divided into 14 teams, with each given a packet of warrants. By about 4:45 a.m. the officers were on the streets, under a full moon, in search of the men and a few women who individually owe between $195 and $92,000.

Most owe many thousands of dollars and many are tens of thousands of dollars in arrears.

“There’s no excuse for them to be behind,” said WPSO Chief Deputy Mike Haley. “All they have to do is what’s right.”

The roundup was reportedly the first of its type in Washington Parish in the past six years, and one that Sheriff Randy Seal has been planning since he took office. It was initially scheduled for last year, but postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.

“This is just the beginning of what we have planned for Washington Parish,” Seal said Tuesday.

He told the teams to be careful, appropriate advice since some of the warrants were for people with criminal histories, including charges of murder.

A separate team was given the warrants for those deemed the most dangerous.

The plan was for the teams to start out in Bogalusa, hit the unincorporated areas of the parish and then finish in Franklinton. Vans were stationed in strategic locations so teams could drop off anybody they arrested for transport to the parish jail in Franklinton, where they were processed by a panel that asked questions about their financial status and told them how much they owed and how much they had to pay immediately.

Jail personnel were soon scrambling to find room for those who could not comply.

Haley said the jail has 144 beds and already housed 149 offenders Tuesday morning although that number was expected to decrease by about four later in the day.

It would then increase due to the roundup.

Haley said the jail would have to break out the spare mattresses.

He and others said the benefits to children of broken households and struggling single parents were worth any housekeeping problems.

“I have no respect for men or women who won’t take care of their children,” said Seal. “We want to get them and make them understand their responsibility.”

A member of the processing panel who wished to remain anonymous was direct.

“Sir, you brought these children into the world, you have to pay for them,” he told one of those arrested Tuesday.

“This is not going to go away.”

For the results of the roundup and a list of names, see the Friday Daily News.