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EPD, District Court to offer warrant relief through summer

by Tia Lyons | June 3, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.

Starting Monday, anyone with an active arrest warrant for traffic citations or failure to appear/outstanding fines with the El Dorado Police Department will have the opportunity to clear their warrants and schedule a new date for a court appearance.

The EPD and 35th Judicial District Court are teaming up to offer a temporary Warrant Relief Initiative.

Both are hoping that residents will take advantage of the chance for a fresh start to take care of any arrest warrants for the applicable offenses.

On its Facebook page, the EPD has posted a list of people with active warrants who are eligible for the WRI, which begins Monday and ends Aug. 28.

According to the Facebook post, residents may go to the EPD, 402 N. West Ave., to make contact with warrant officer Jordan Halfacre.

The police department lobby is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday - Thursday, and 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

Halfacre will clear the active warrant and after a new date is scheduled for an appearance in district court, the resident is free to leave the police department.

"Only those who take initiative and come to the police department will be afforded this opportunity. Any other contact with these citizens will result in the current warrant being served and standard procedures followed," the EPD Facebook post said.

District court Judge Jack Barker said he welcomed the opportunity to work with the EPD to help the department check off its warrant list and offer residents an option to avoid arrest and take care of active arrest warrants for traffic citations and failure to appear/unpaid fines.

"The officer came to me and said he had a lot of unserved warrants, more than he could actually serve," Barker said.

"I think most people would rather go to the police department and see that officer and allow him to give them a new court appearance and quash those arrest warrants for failure to appear than go through the usual process," Barker said.

The judge said his court administered a similar program several years ago without much success.

"We were offering them to come out to the district court office and do basically same thing that they're trying to do now," he said. "However, word got out on the street that they were going to get arrested and we were setting them up."

Residents whose names appear on the EPD's warrant list for the applicable offenses are eligible to participate in the WRI.

"Hopefully, this will get people to start paying on their fines and take care of any outstanding traffic offenses they've got," Barker said. "If people out there will cooperate with them, (the police) will cooperate with them as well. It's all for the good of the community."

For more information, call Halfacre at 870-881-4800 or 870-881-4831.


District court is also working with city officials to launch another program to help defendants pay off court-mandated fines and to benefit the community.

Mayor Paul Choate and Robert Edmonds, director of public works, have met with Barker about a campaign to help tackle the litter problem in El Dorado and the program could get under way within the next few days.

Barker said he is looking to tie the effort in to community service hours for defendants who have been convicted of misdemeanor offenses and who owe fines, adding, "The litter problem in El Dorado has gotten to be overwhelming, even for these volunteer groups who get out and clean up."

"Jack Barker informed me that he has over $1 million worth of (unpaid) fines sitting out there and he's going to start trying to shrink that balance and part of what they can do is public service," explained Choate.

Though the details are still being hammered out, Choate said so far, the group has agreed to concentrate its efforts on assigning eligible defendants to a cleanup schedule of 8 a.m. until noon three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).

"If we can get people working during the day before it starts getting hot, three days a week, then we can put a dent in this and they can put a dent in their own fines," Barker said.

Defendants will be supervised by a public works crew, headed up by Lamond Mitchell.

The three-man crew performs a variety of maintenance duties for the city, including yardwork/landscaping and taking care of City Hall, the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, etc., said Choate.

"I call (Mitchell)one of the city's utility players. He's a longtime city employee and he and his crew will be our boots on the ground out there," the mayor said.

"I really appreciate his willingness to do this too. It puts more on him but he said, 'I'm really all about this Mayor.' He sees the need and he's willing to go the extra mile to make it happen," Choate continued.

Barker said defendants who participate in the program will be paid an hourly rate of more than $15 that will be credited toward the balance of their fines.

Choate said the city is still hammering out the details for the anti-litter campaign and a formal announcement is forthcoming.

"We've got a little more detail on our side to take care of and we're going to sit down and put some more flesh on the bone but, hopefully, we can start doing this next week," said Choate.

Keep El Dorado Beautiful also sought Barker's help to implement a similar program in 2019.

KEB secured its nonprofit status and was certified to qualify as a local/community alternative service provider for district court defendants who are convicted of misdemeanor offenses, allowing defendants to work off fines by picking up litter.

At the time, Barker said the numbers have dwindled for local community/ alternative service providers who work with district court.

KEB had just started to get the program off the ground when COVID-19 struck and ground the effort to a halt.

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