A recent operation conducted by the Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Department, the prosecutor’s department and court of common pleas netted a surprising number of wanted individuals.
In all, 127 individuals were arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to pay child support, and the division of Child Support Enforcement deputy director Brenda Gilreath said that the number this year marked a nice increase in parents being brought to task for not supporting their children.
“They (non-supportive parents) had to be tracked down, and this year there was 127,” said Gilreath. “Last year, we had 89, so this is a significant increase. That’s a lot of apprehensions, and these are individuals who have outstanding civil or criminal warrants. The sheriff’s office actually conducts an investigation to find where they are.”
Gilreath said that every year in August her department has a contract with the sheriff’s department in which CSE provides extra funding to cover overtime and the deputies attempt to provide extra arrests.
“There are actually extra efforts associated with these apprehensions,” said Gilreath. “We have a contract year-round with the Clermont County Sheriff’s Department, but during the month of August, we have a special contract with them that enables them to spend more time on investigations and locating and arresting these individuals. They actually had 13 deputies assigned to the roundup during the month of August.”
This year, efforts like newspaper ads providing names and faces of non-supporting parents and a most wanted poster were joined by mugshots and information included in water and sewer bills. That, said Gilreath, provided results.
“We received a lot of tips, and the three individuals on the water and sewer bills were all apprehended,” said Gilreath. “On the poster, we had three apprehensions. We also ran a full page ad with 30 individuals and there was six apprehensions from that. During August, we had eight extraditions. Three came from Indiana, one from Arkansas, one from Texas, one from North Carolina, one from Tennessee, and one from Michigan.”
Sheriff Tim Rodenberg said that his deputies’ involvement has not only been profitable for children, but for the county as well.
“This is something we’re glad to help with,” said Sheriff Rodenberg. “This helps free up resources for Job and Family Services. If people don’t pay child support, we end up paying for it through the system. It costs everyone a lot of money, so if we can get the people responsible to pay, it allows money from the public to be used for other matters that are also pressing.”
While Sheriff Rodenberg said that catching the non-supportive parent doesn’t always mean that payments begin for the child in question, it does at least give parents a chance to start on the road of responsibility.
“We’ve been doing this in conjunction with the child support collection agency in an attempt to bring delinquent child support payers before the courts,” said Sheriff Rodenberg. “There are a high number of people ordered to pay child support – not all of them – that basically ignore the court order or don’t have the means to pay, and so they don’t pay. Some owe thousands of dollars in back child support. What we do is work with the child support unit, they provide us with their list of most grievous offenders, and we attempt to round them up. It’s been very successful.”
Gilreath said that the deputies do an excellent job of finding individuals, both during the roundup and throughout the year. Deputies actually work on apprehensions year-round, but only focus on it so intensely during the month of August. A steady stream of arrests are made throughout the year, said Gilreath, but the sheer amount of work done can’t compare to the roundup.
“There were 186 children that were involved with these apprehensions, and we thought that was a good number of kids,” said Gilreath. “The sheriff’s department really does an excellent job apprehending these people during the month of August.”
“It’s a lot of hard work,” said Sheriff Rodenberg. “The deputies check leads, and sometimes have informants. Some of the individuals are actually known to the deputies because they’ve had contact with them before. The deputies work very hard for a few weeks during the roundup, and you see the numbers. The results speak for themselves.”
Every July, non-supportive parents are given amnesty if they turn themselves in and work to pay support and pay down their arrearages, but during the rest of the year, Gilreath said that they may face other punishment if caught.
“On the criminal warrants, if someone came into our office right now, it would be in the prosecutor’s hands,” said Gilreath. “On the civil warrants, if someone came in, they would need to turn themselves in, but we would work with them. If they turn themselves in, we’d hold an immediate bond hearing and they would be released.”
Sheriff Rodenberg said that a surprising number of non-supportive parents stay in the area, although some do flee and are only generally found if they are arrested for something unrelated. Otherwise, Sheriff Rodenberg said that the cooperation has been refreshing and he hopes it will continue.
“I’m very pleased we’re able to help,” said Sheriff Rodenberg. “You don’t always see multi-agency cooperation like this. This has worked well for us, and as long as we have the staff and resources to participate, we’ll continue to do so.”