Posted: Oct 9, 2012 5:12 PM by Andrew Ellison - email@example.com
Updated: Oct 9, 2012 6:54 PM
KLEBERG COUNTY - We have new information on the over 800 unserved arrest warrants in Kleberg County. This morning, county commissioners met to discuss what to do about the officer responsible for serving these warrants during their regular meeting. But when they got to the warrant issue, they went into executive session and returned to announce that they weren't taking any action on the matter today, because the warrant officer didn't show up to the meeting.
We talked with county officials who were upset that yet another day was passing with little being done about this problem. Kleberg County Court at Law Judge Guadalupe Mendoza says she's been dealing with this problem for too long.
"When I came into office, I was really dumbfounded that there was approximately 600 and something warrants that had not been executed. It seems to have been an ongoing problem," Mendoza says.
Mendoza handles all the misdemeanor cases in Kleberg County, and those are the cases where the unserved warrants are coming from. She says she can't do her job because the warrants aren't getting served.
"If the warrant officer was executing the warrants in a timely fashion, then they would be sent back, returned to the sheriff's office, and then they would be coming to court," Mendoza says.
We tried to talk with Kleberg County's only warrant officer, Gabriel Gonzalez, but his boss, Judge Angelica Hernandez, doesn't allow her staff to talk with the media. So we asked her why the warrants aren't being served.
"One person just can't serve all those warrants. It's impossible," Hernandez says.
She told us that Gonzalez serves all the misdemeanor and felonly warrants, and because felony warrants take priority, misdemeanors often get put aside.
She also said that felony warrants get put into computer databases called the National Crime Information Center and the Texas Crime Information Center. These two systems allow other law enforcement agencies to know when people are wanted in Kleberg County. The problem is misdemeanors haven't been put into these systems like felonies have.
"I have the benefit of my warrants being put into the T.C.I.C and the N.C.I.C systems because they're felonies and so if they get stopped in the Valley, if they got stopped at the border, if they get stopped in another state, those agencies are going to pick up my people," Hernandez says.
Hernandez says misdemeanors are slowly starting to be entered into those databases, but that alone won't fix the problem.
"We're going to have to ask the commissioners for more warrant officers, and one person just can't do it. We got to have more than one person," Hernandez says.
Now county officials will form a committe of judges, commissioners, and law enforcement officials to decide what to do to fix this problem and move forward.
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