City to post names of outstanding warrant holders

Beginning later this month, the City of Renton will try a new tactic to collect on outstanding warrants: shame.

During the week of Sept. 30, the city will be posting on its website the names of about 2,500 people with outstanding warrants and a second list of those with outstanding tickets from red light camera violations.

The hope is that people will contact the city to pay their debts to avoid the public embarrassment.

“We have a lot of outstanding warrants and they just sit in a drawer, so to speak,” said Councilman and Public Safety Committee Chair Don Persson. “No one is actively going out door-to-door looking for these people.”

Persson, a former Renton police assistant chief, said the city had some success in the past with a similar program called “Renton’s Most Wanted” that led to many of those on the list looking to get their name off of said list.

“You can’t believe the phones that rang off the hook in the court with people not wanting their name out there,” he said.

Persson said the success of that program made him want to try again and since outstanding warrants are simply a public record, there is no problem with publishing them on the city’s website.

According to Court Services Director Bonnie Woodrow, who put together the list at the request of the council earlier this year, there is approximately $12 million in unpaid fines and warrants on the 50-page list expected to go live in two weeks. There are approximately $3 million in unpaid photo enforcement fines.

Persson said he thinks 99 percent of those who get ticketed or arrested take care of their debts, but the remainder are fair game.

“The 1-percenters we should try and go after in some way,” he said.

Persson and his fellow Public Safety Committee members, Terri Briere and Marice Palmer, all praised the project.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Palmer said Tuesday.

Palmer said she thought “public pressure” and “a little embarrassment” might cause some folks to take care of their debts.

“Somebody might see their name,” she said.

Both Palmer and Persson also said that since it does not cost the city anything to run the report and put it on the website, there was no reason not to try it.

“I think it’s always good to try something different,” Palmer said, adding “we’re not out anything.”

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