Grant County to crack down on outstanding fines in 2013

(KATV) Grant County - There is anew Sheriff in town and he is pulling out the back log of warrants and knockingon doors. The Grant County Sheriff has also kicked off the year with plans forsafety check points.

Normally you hear about awarrant sweep or a safety check point. But imagine in a town of 500, having bothin one day. That was Friday, January 11 and it's still the talk of the town.

Like the saying goes, ifyou blink you missed it. Leola is a small town where everyone knows oneanother. Gas station manager, Nancy Cooper says, "I was at the registerand I just seen cop after cop and they went to both ends of the store." She adds, "I was stopped twice but I didn't have anything to worry about. People I knowwere cited, one person for an unpaid traffic ticket."

Seven law enforcementagencies (Arkansas State Police, Dallas County, Hot Spring County, Group SixNarcotics, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Grant County and the Highwaypolice) worked together to barricade roads, in and out of Leola to conductsafety check points.

Sheriff Ray Vance says, "Wewrote over 25 citations just in our check points that range from anything fromDWI to suspended license to expired tags."

In the meantime, deputieswent knocking on doors, looking for 17 people with outstanding warrants. "Thesuccess rate of this proves it is an effective way to do what we want todo."

Sheriff Vance says thecounty has more than $1 million dollars worth of fines and fees that need to becollected. "In that one night we collected about $5,000 dollars."

However, for the rest ofthe month, folks with a warrant in Grant County can get on a payment plan ifthey voluntarily walk into the sheriff's office. "We will let them paytheir $50 dollar warrant fee, give them a court date, they won't spend any timein jail. If we have to come visit them, then they're going to beincarcerated."

Sheriff Vance says thiswas just the first of many sweeps planned this year. "We may go back toLeola. Right now we don't know where we're going to go and neither doeseverybody else and that's a good thing and that's what we're hoping."

Cooper adds, "Itmakes us feel safer out here."

This was a large operationand took several weeks to plan.

Grant County started inLeola because for such a small town, there were a lot of warrants from firstdegree battery to rape. Sheriff Vance says they were listening to theircitizens complaints about wanting a safer community.