Monday, February 16, 2009

Sheriff's Has Valentine's Deadbeat Parent Roundup

Dozens of people received a Valentine's Day surprise: A sheriff's deputy on their doorstep with a warrant for their arrest. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested 72 people on warrants Saturday as part of a deadbeat-parent roundup called "Operation Tough Love." Out of that total, only 17 were deadbeat parents. The others were arrested for drug charges and other charges, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Despite the other charges, Arpaio said their main goal was to find deadbeat mothers and fathers. They targeted parents who have warrants out for their arrests for refusing a court order to pay child support. "You have to take care of the children," he said. "That's the main objective. It's also economic problems - food stamps and dependent children, medical care of the children. . . . It's a budget issue, also."The top 15 offenders together owe more than $1 million to their children, according to the Sheriff's Office. Teams of deputies and posse members began their search at about 8 a.m., Arpaio said. Those who were arrested were taken to a support building at 3325 W. Durango St., in Phoenix, for booking. Arpaio said one challenge they faced was that more than 60 percent of deadbeat parents have skipped town to avoid paying child support. In one search today, a team went to the home of a deadbeat mother. Arpaio said they could not find the mother and instead discovered 13 illegal immigrants at the home, in the 3100 block of North 86th Drive in Phoenix. Arpaio said the Sheriff's Office has about 500 warrants for deadbeat parents. "The bottom line is they should have respect and surrender," Arpaio said.