A proposal to allow fugitives facing criminal warrants on nonviolent offenses to turn themselves in at a church was endorsed by The Tennessean. Nashville police are developing a local version of Operation Fugitive Safe Surrender, which is modeled on a U.S. Marshals Service approach created in Cleveland in 2005. Nonviolent offenders with outstanding warrants would be able to be booked at a local church, where they would get a new court date and could go free without bond. Most of the 38,000 outstanding local warrants are for nonviolent offenders.
The Safe Surrender program is pitched by police as a way to encourage fugitives to come forward and avoid circumstances like having an officer go to a home at odd hours to make an arrest in front of family members, including children. another strong reason is to reduce the amount of risk law enforcement officers could encounter when they go after fugitives. More than 1,300 fugitives turned themselves in over four days last November in Safe Surrender in Phoenix, including 300 who faced felony warrants. In Cleveland, more than 840 people showed up over a four-day period in 2005, including 324 felony suspects. The program was established by U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott.