Tonawanda News

Local News

April 11, 2008

CITY OF TONAWANDA: Tracking down criminals

Many people get their photo printed in the newspaper each year for playing sports or doing something interesting or important in the community.

Over the past year, however, approximately 150 people — and many more who know them — have seen their sometimes unflattering mug in this paper as part of a weekly blurb compiled by the City of Tonawanda Police Department. It’s called Warrant Watch.

The feature recently marked its one-year anniversary of helping city police track down the nearly 300 individuals for whom they have outstanding arrest warrants — one of which dates back to 1972 for a driving while intoxicated fine.

City police have successfully captured 31 of the approximately 160 individuals who have appeared in Warrant Watch over the past year, according to Records Lt. Fredric Foels.

“I think it’s good. Warrant Watch is just another tool that we have in our tool box to apprehend people who thumb their nose at the criminal justice system,” Foels said. Just as people can’t flee death and taxes, they also can’t escape a warrant that’s been issued, Foels added. “Warrants do not go away.”

Tonawanda has 269 outstanding warrants, and they range from people who are believed to still be living in the Tonawandas to people on the lam as far away as Calgary, Alberta; Phoenix; Dilley, Texas; Kissimmee, Fla. and San Diego. Ironically, one person resides in Defiance, Ohio. The complete list is available on the city police department’s Web site, and includes photos of many of the individuals still out there.

Acting City Court Judge Mark E. Saltarelli said Warrant Watch has been a successful tool.

“Any publicity with regard to outstanding warrants is helpful,” he said, adding that manpower shortages often make it tough for police to track down every outstanding warrant. “That’s why it’s helpful to publish their picture and get this information out to the public,” Saltarelli said.

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