Not too late to ‘surrender’

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The New Mexico Safe Surrender event in Socorro last Saturday brought in 49 people to take care of their active warrants.

New Mexico State Police Capt. Luis Hernandez, commander of NMSP special operations statewide, said about 27 to 30 of those people were picked up by officers in an NMSP sweep, and the rest came in voluntarily either to pay their fines or commit to a payment plan. He added another six or eight people were arrested on city warrants or other charges.

“Overall, it was very successful,” Hernandez said. “And the program is there so people will voluntarily turn themselves in or pay their fees. Some of these people had fees that were less than $100. So these people were given the opportunity to make those payments, and then were released by the judge immediately after that.”

The Safe Surrender event was held at Socorro Magistrate Court on March 2 from 8 a.m. to noon, according to a news release issued by the New Mexico Courts Warrant Enforcement Program.

Hernandez said notices were sent to people with outstanding warrants about a week before the Saturday event. He said people can still come in to Magistrate Court and clear their warrants, and thus avoid arrest.

“The program is still in place,” Hernandez said. “If people want to avoid arrest, they can come in and make a payment on their warrant.”

Hernandez said over the past week since the Safe Surrender event, many more people have come in to Magistrate Court to clear their warrants.

“Over 100 warrants were cleared as a result of this operation,” Hernandez said. “And that number’s going to continue to grow because, as a result of that, people are still going into court this week and making payments.”

The courts made contact with about 185 defendants as of Friday, according to an email from Jennifer Wommack with the New Mexico Courts Warrant Enforcement Program. Wommack’s message stated all 185 were able to go home after their contact with the courts.

Hernandez said the program is still in place for anyone who wants to voluntarily pay their tickets and avoid arrest on an outstanding warrant.

“At any time they can go in to the court and take care of those warrants,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said people “most likely” won’t be arrested if they voluntarily come in to Magistrate Court and pay their fines or make payment arrangements to address an outstanding warrant.

Hernandez does not know where or when the next Safe Surrender event will take place. He explained NMSP meets with court administrators to determine where the highest number of outstanding warrants are in the state, and then NMSP and court administrators set up a Safe Surrender event accordingly.

Safe Surrender events are held periodically throughout the year in different locations across the state, Wommack stated.

Any member of the public who is interested in participating can find more information on Twitter at twitter.com/NMSafeSurrender, at the New Mexico Magistrate Court Warrant Enforcement Facebook page or by calling the New Mexico warrant hotline at 505-867-4360.