UPDATED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 1:20pm
County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack has arrested 11 Polk County parents who violated court orders requiring them to pay child support. Today's sweep was conducted in conjunction with the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division. The effort focused on parents who were the subjects of arrest warrants because of their failure to pay child support.
In addition to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Livingston Police Department, the Onalaska Police Department and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Police Department participated in the countywide effort. Child Support Division investigators aided the sheriff by providing logistical assistance to locate missing parents.
"Parents have a moral and legal obligation to make regular child support payments," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. "By collecting child support, we are ensuring young Texans have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong. We are grateful to Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, Livingston Police Chief Dennis Compton, Onalaska Police Chief Ron Gilbert and Alabama-Coushatta Police Chief Antonio L. Ford for their unfailing commitment to Texas children."
Today's sweep targeted parents who were wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to pay child support. After holding a 4 a.m. briefing, Sheriff Hammack dispatched five teams of law enforcement officers to locate and arrest the noncompliant parents before they had a chance to leave their homes for the day.
Today's roundup resulted in the arrest of 11 parents whose failure to support their children violated the law. A total of 21 parents - including 11 from today's effort - have been arrested since the beginning of March, when roundup preparation began.
Delinquent parents arrested on civil warrants face up to six months in jail. Cash bonds posted by delinquent parents seeking release from jail are paid to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support.
To avoid the embarrassment of arrest at home or work, parents with child support warrants should contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments - but are not subject to warrants for their arrest - should immediately contact the Attorney General's Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014 to make payment arrangements.
Under state and federal law, the Office of the Attorney General can assist families who request child support services and must serve families who currently receive or have received public assistance. Services offered by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments.
Statewide, child support collected by the Office of the Attorney General exceeded $3.4 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2012. The child support office that covers Polk and five surrounding counties collected $47 million of that amount.