INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An initiative launching next month will give people with outstanding warrants an opportunity to resolve those cases at church.
The initiative is called Operation: Safe Surrender.
“We’re hoping to get the word out to let people know that this is not a sting,” said Reverend Stephen J. Clay, Messiah Missionary Baptist Church.
Clay is also a city councilman. He said there are more than 22,000 active warrants in Marion County and that number is alarming.
“We believe the church brings the credibility and the integrity to this process because while everybody may not belong to the church the church belongs to everybody,” he said.
The church has partnered with more than a dozen local agencies and organizations to help with the process.
The list includes, Marion County Health Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, IndyGo, The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, The Indianapolis Marion County Superior Court Probation Department and The Marion County Public Defender’s Office.
Clay said people can safely surrender in the house of worship without fear of arrest. He said one of three things can happen.
“One have their warrants lifted, number two have their court date reset for a time to be determined and thirdly, have their matter resolved,” he said.
The church hosted something similar back in 2007 with federal help and had great success.
This time around, Clay is hoping for an even bigger turnout. He believes this could help the community and police in the long run.
“It’s a public safety issue because every time law enforcement has to go out and do these large sweeps to try to address these issues they put at risk their lives,” he said. “We’ve seen that recently where an officer in Kokomo lost his life trying to serve a warrant.”
Clay said most of the warrants are traffic related, like not showing up to a court date for a speeding ticket.
Others are drug related for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.
Operation Safe Surrender is scheduled for April 14 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., April 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The church is located at 5640 East 38th Street.
If you have any questions you can call the Marion County Public Defender’s Office at 317-327-3982.